Do NOT Do Business with Lou Reyes and the Gluten-Free Awareness Tour

gluten free awareness tour

Wow…what a dirtbag.

I really tried to give Lou Reyes the benefit of the doubt. It’s just who I am. Deep down, I want to believe people are good.

But after the wave of emails I’ve received in the past week about this guy, there is no longer any doubt. He is in business to rip people off…plain and simple.

And our goal as a community should also be plain and simple: put him out of business.

A quick recap: Last week, after receiving several complaints about the Celiac Awareness Tour (now called the Gluten-Free Awareness Tour), I did a little digging and discovered some unsavory things about the tour. I wrote about it here.

I have given Lou every opportunity to respond. I’ve emailed him. I’ve called him. I’ve hit him up on Twitter. But his silence has been deafening.

So now let me share some stories that others have shared with me…

I managed to escape them unscathed, but I had them hire a friend of mine to hand out samples for $200 pay at the SF event. Lou said his cash box was stolen the morning of the event so he would have to send a check. He never did and my friend says the main phone line for the expo is now disconnected.

Dude note: Maybe the dog at his cash box.

I worked all weekend for Lou in San Francisco 6 weeks ago and have yet to receive my agreed-upon pay. It came as a shock; he and his business partner Andy presented as unbelievably charming and friendly people. But countless unanswered emails, phone calls, and invoices later, all I want is for any potential suckers to be spared the disappointment and betrayal.

Dude note: Charming and friendly is how a lot of scammers work.

I purchased two tickets online in advance to attend this event and have not gotten a refund yet even though I was contacted and asked if I preferred a refund or tickets to their November event. I would like to have my $16 back. I know it’s not much compared to what some vendors have lost but it still irks me.

Dude note: $16 or $1,600…doesn’t matter. There is no worse feeling than getting scammed out of your hard-earned money.

I was approached to be an official blogger at their Chicago stop, that was SUPPOSED to be held on October 26th and 27th 2013. That was another cancellation. However, rather than being contacted by anyone from the Celiac/Gluten Free Awareness Tour, I had to contact the hotel the morning of only to find out the hotel had no record or the event. I emailed them several times, posted on their FB wall (which has since been removed), and on their Twitter page, and I even called them and left a vm asking about the event. Not one person had the decency to even return the call or notify anyone in advance that this stop was also cancelled.

Dude note: Decency is too much to ask it seems.

I want to personally thank you for exposing The Celiac Awareness Tour and Lou Reyes. I have had so many phone calls from presenters, exhibitors and attendees over the past years about Lou and my hands were tied about exposing him. For those of us that spend our lives running responsible businesses that strive to help the gluten-free community, you have just been a huge help. Thank you!!!

Ok…I received a bunch more, but I think you get the point. The guy’s a total doink.

So what can we do about it? How can we protect vendors and others in our community from getting screwed over?

I don’t have a clear-cut answer. Personally, I’m going to reach out to some of the big names in the gluten-free industry (Udis, Rudis, Schar, etc) and ask them to stop supporting the CAT. I’ll reach out once again to Lou and let him use my forum to explain all of the complaints about him.

Feel free to hit Lou up on Facebook and Twitter and let him know what he’s doing is simply not ok.

And if you’ve got more stories, share them. Spread the word. Expose the CAT for what it is.

And just to make this clear, this is ONLY the Celiac Awareness Tour we are discussing here. There are other expos that are totally legit.

Heather at Stuffed-Pepper.com had this spot-on quote:

“Sometimes, the gluten-free space reminds me of the Wild West, like gold miners and brothel owners on Deadwood. Everyone’s out to stake a claim. And without regulation and a sheriff in town… anything goes.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Maybe I’ll run for sheriff.

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32 thoughts on “Do NOT Do Business with Lou Reyes and the Gluten-Free Awareness Tour”

  1. cynthia loeffler

    Thanks GD. for sparing me the expense of going to this tour. I would check when they would be somewhere close to where i live (TN) and if near by I would make arrangements for my friend to take me as I am disabled and the whole trip would have been a big deal for me, that is how much I wanted to go. Keep on looking out for us, you are greatly appreciated. Stay well

  2. I was very disappointed when I realized the Chicago event wasn’t happening. I took off of work and arranged to go with a friend. I had been asked to be a blogger for the event. I was emailing my contact and getting no response. I tried the phone number also, and I called the hotel. I even sent a message to Enjoy Life Foods on Facebook and they said they are not sure what happened but that they were not going to be there if the event was even happening, because they had not heard back either. I have only been gluten free since May, and I thought this was going to be a great way for me to learn about many of the foods available. And I was so excited when they asked me to be a blogger for them. I didn’t lose any money, (well, besides the day off of work), but I was, and still am so disappointed. Thank you for writing about this so I know more about what happened. I should probably set my blog posts about the event as draft so they don’t show up in any searches…

    1. Beth, next April will be the Gluten Free Expo in April. That event will definitely meet your needs! Hang in there until then. have you gone to any of the Chicago Celiac support groups? They are SUPER helpful.

      1. I haven’t been to any support groups 🙁 I am about an hour to an hour and a half North of Chicago so it’s not that easy of a place to get to unless I’m going for a big event and spending a long time there. I did start a Facebook page for gluten free people in my area, and we have quite a few people that joined and we are talking about meeting up so that’s exciting! I did apply to be a blogger for that expo and will definitely go either way!

  3. Thank you for sharing! I’ve done many demos for health food companies including Gluten-free companies at GF fairs. I have yet to come across this. I also shared this with my school (Nutrition Therapy Institute) as students are always looking for weekend type jobs in the field. It’s very sad to know there are people trying to make a buck off of a very serious condition. Thank you for looking out for all!

  4. Thanks for exposing this guy. I exhibited at the SF show for my local support group. Lou asked me to arrange some help which I did…two guys that help me out regularly at other GF events. One of them was my 20 year old son. My son came to me several times during the event and said he was suspicious about getting paid because Lou reported his “briefcase” being stolen out of his car. I mean really…who leaves cash and checks in their car in downtown San Francisco? Anyway, on the way out of the expo, he told my son that he would pay him Monday through Paypal. My son said to him, “you don’t even have my email address…how can you pay me through Paypal?
    Lou said, “oh yeah that’s right.” and then he proceeded to write it down on the work record form. At this point, I was getting a really bad feeling. At the last minute, I snapped a photo of the work form with the recorded hours. Lou saw this. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras. We then both (my son and I) followed up with him everyday until the money was deposited which was within a week. I am glad he followed through and paid us but after reading some of these horror stores, I am convinced that had I not taken that picture, my son and his friend would have not been paid.

  5. I just posted something on their Facebook page, but I don’t expect it will be up for long. It’s interesting that one person described them as “unbelievably charming and friendly”, because those are exactly the attributes associated with sociopaths. Thank you once again for calling out the scumbags Dude. It’s very much appreciated.

  6. Interesting! I was approached by these folks as well – but I turn down 98% of partnerships like this because I find them sketchy to begin with when it’s not something I’ve already heard of. Glad I trusted my instincts and stayed away.

    Thanks for sharing your findings and pushing the word out!

    1. Lou had an event at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. He wrote a check to us so we would open the doors for his event. But he later said his car was broken into. Our Event Manager even saw his window was broken. Lou said his check book and wallet were all in the car and had been stolen. He said he would write us a check when he got back to his home base. After emailing and calling him for months to follow up on the amount he owed. I commented on several of his Facebook posts that he still owed us $4825. The next day, I got a very angry call from him. He said he was no longer involved with the Celiac Group and to contact the bookkeeper for payment. I was then blocked from the Celiac Awareness Tours Facebook page.

  7. Scathed by Scammer

    Hello Gluten Dude,

    I worked with Lou Reyes this summer. Being fooled by this scammer made me feel like an idiot and sullied my reputation. I trusted this person as a boss and businessman, and he betrayed me, my coworkers and all of you.

    His last batch of employees, including me, all got laid off the day following us confronting him about some questionable business activities on his part we’d been hearing about from vendors, speakers, etc. He still owes us paychecks, even though he laid us off over a month ago.

    I feel so bad for anyone who got involved in this Tour. I feel guilty knowing how many people he screwed over and not being able to do anything to help them. We, besides Lou, really did believe we were producing an event to help those with celiac disease and spread awareness. I thought I was helping people and feel awful knowing that I believed his lies. Lou will never say this, but on behalf of the CAT, I would like to apologize to all those who were screwed over by Lou (whom is a scammer) and we’re let down by the ‘Tour.’

    I would like to say a special sorry to Sisro’s Cakery in Detroit. These ladies are such talented bakers of gluten-free baked goods and were ignored by Lou, despite my efforts. If you still haven’t received payment, I’m sorry I failed you.

    I would also like to say to Chef Doug that you are a joy. He did a wonderful cooking demo in Detroit that I recently learned he was never compensated for. I would’ve talked to you (every vendor, speaker, volunteer) each individually once I knew he was a lying brute, but Lou disabled our e-mail less than a day after laying us off.

    I’m writing this so you know just how deep his scam goes. He not only hurt so many wonderful people in the celiac community, but he devastated and took advantage of his staff as well. I want him to be brought to justice and hope you all don’t let him get away with it. That would be the worst part of it all- if he got away with it. Please hold him accountable for his actions, and if he owes you money, fight for it. You deserve it. You are good people in an amazing and extremely tight knit community that I respect and was glad to work with. I’m just sorry I can’t work with you anymore. Bless you all, and I’m so sorry if his web of deceit and manipulation caught you. It caught me too.

    And to you, gluten dude, thank you for protecting and being a great watchdog for the celiac community. I read your post about the CAT name change a month ago and couldn’t agree more.

    Best of luck to all of you. I can’t express how deeply sorry I am if he ripped you off or hurt you. God bless!

    Love,
    Scathed by Scammer

      1. I know this is an older forum now, but to whoever said this..”I want him to be brought to justice and hope you all don’t let him get away with it.”

        It’s too late, he is busy setting up a new operation (likely with your money) and no doubt ‘it’ has other victims lined up already.

        To those of you who have not chased ‘it’ for the money, please do so. Even if ‘it’ is no longer a part of the Celiac Awareness Tour, ‘it’ was at the time, knew what ‘it’ was doing and IS liable for ALL costs and payments since day one.

        Chase ‘it’, and don’t stop.

  8. The more posts I read, the sicker I feel and the angrier I get.

    I hate it when good, decent and hardworking people are screwed over.

    Good work, my friend, exposing this scam artist.

  9. Stealing from me is stealing from my family

    I’m just another service provider to Lou Reyes, and I have not been paid. Thank you for the lesson Lou.

  10. I went back and forth with Lou for over a month after the Philadelphia show was cancelled in May. The event was supposed to be 5/18/13- the email about the event being cancelled came at the end of the day on 5/17/13- so I replied immediately to see about getting a refund. I was told that my refund was issued to a Thomas McDonald on 5/22/13…that’s great, but who is Thomas McDonald. I sent a copy of my online receipt that clearly showed that I am not Thomas McDonald, but they didn’t seem to understand. The first few emails came from Paige Allison, but when she stopped responding, I stared emailing Lou Reyes. First he blamed the Eventbrite website for the lack of refunds- then he told me that my refund was in the mail- then he tried to blame me for not having a Paypal account even though I bought the tickets with a credit card! After many emails and many rude comments from Lou, I threatened to call the police and eventually received a check in the mail. That man is definitely a con artist and should not be trusted.

  11. Lou Reyes owes the company I work with $2070.00 for services NEVER performed.

    I’m a little late to the game since this happened over a year ago. While cleaning out files I unfortunately ran into his conman’s info and thought I would try to track him down again. Looks like I wasn’t his first or last victim. I don’t understand how someone like this is getting away with what he’s doing.

    I hired his “company” to execute demo in San Francisco. In good faith we paid the 50% deposit. I should have known something was up when they kept asking for the money. We paid the money and send it to the PO Box on the invoice, but the po box was no longer in service. First red flag. Second red flag was when they told me they needed to hire demo reps in San Francisco. I was a bit confused since I was told that they were already established and ready to start demoing.

    An assistant he had working for him tried to convince me to sign up for the Gluten Free tour. Luckily I said no to that!!

    Anyway, the assistant end up quitting and when I finally got a hold of her she proceeded to tell me how shifty of a character he was and that I should ask for our money back.

    When I finally got a hole of Lou, which took about a month of constant calls and emails, he said he was in San Francisco now hiring people to do demo. What I lire!! We agreed that if the demos did not get executed within four weeks he would reimburse us. I never heard from him again and believe me I tried!!

    So Yes, I am complete agreement, DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH LOU REYES. Who is this guy anyway??

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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