I posted about Glory Days Grill last week and how they have changed some things in their kitchen to the possible detriment to the celiac community. You can read that post HERE. But here is a quick summary.
In the past few weeks, I have received over a dozen messages from concerned folks regarding changes at Glory Days Grill. They used to have a dedicated fryer and had lots of precautions to minimize the risk of cross-contamination in place. In late 2022, they sold their 22 locations in VA and MD to a group led by the Outback Steakhouse co-founder. This group now owns 37 of the 40 franchises. This group decided to make some changes in the kitchen, none of it good for the celiac community. Specifically, here is what’s new and this is a quote from their executive chef:
To improve the quality of our food and improve kitchen execution, we will be moving to hand breaded chicken, shrimp and fish this year. The introduction of flour to our fry cooking station areas will mean that flour will become airborne in and around our fryers making it impossible to guarantee gluten free fried food long term.
This means goodbye dedicated fryer and hello airborne flour.
So I contacted Tony Cochones, the executive chef, and asked him a number of questions, which I posted on Part 1. He got back to me with all of the answers and I want to share them here. And away we go.
GD: What specifically has changed in your menu and your protocol?
TC: Only the use of fryers to prepare food.
GD: Is your management team still certified in Aller Train?
TC: Yes. Every new manager receives Aller Train training from Sarah Lauer who is 20-year member of the team and the co-creator of the ALERTED communication system. Allergen training is ongoing for existing managers.
GD: When are these changes rolling out?
TC: The northern Restaurants (VA,MD,WVA) will finish rolling the changes the week of 4/24.
GD: Will they be consistent in all 40 locations?
TC: Signature items will be consistent throughout restaurants, but regional differences will remain.
GD: Have they rolled out in some locations already?
TC: Yes. 7 test restaurants to date in the MD, VA, and WVA markets.
GD: How transparent are specific locations being about the change?
TC: Fully transparent. Our guest’s safety depends on it.
GD: How is the staff being trained regarding the changes?
TC: Yes. All store meetings occur prior to menu roll out and then via daily shift meetings.
GD: You say you introduced the GF menu in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Did/does someone else handle NC, Georgia, and Florida? Were they different menus?
TC: We have always worked together in our process and share a commitment to ensure food allergen and dietary concerns are carefully and safely handled.
GD: I assume no flour was in the air before this change. Now that there will be, how will you keep your grilled and pan-fried items as safe as possible?
TC: That is correct. No flour was online prior to the hand breading changes. Good question. The proximity of the grill station to the fryers and the powerful hoods that we use creates a natural barrier to prevent cross contamination. The station between the fry station and grill is not used for any preparation of GF Foods. Additional precautions / recipe adjustments have been made to include substituting Tamari for Soy sauce, adjusting a grill basting recipe to utilize rice flour versus wheat flour,etc. Some menu items that we produce can be adjusted to be GF. Take the beef short rib entree for example. Conventional / classical cooking wisdom would be to use flour / roux to thicken the sauce it is served with. We use carrots, onions, and garlic in the braising process and when pureed, the starches in the vegetables thicken the sauce and add a lot of flavor and nutritional value. Separately, and an important part of this picture in my opinion, is that our company President has gluten intolerance, eats gluten free, and is heavily involved in the finest of details of our menu, and ongoing approach.
So there you have it. And now, a few big questions:
Will I keep them on my app? I will. I will certainly update the Dude Vetting Note with the updated info, but they have a level of knowledge that most places just don’t have.
Was this a tough decision to make? Yes. I take pride in the fact that my app focuses on your safety and not just posting every restaurant in the world. And I take this very seriously.
Do you recommend them then? I don’t recommend or not recommend any non-GF place on my app. Everyone has to do what feels right to them given the info we provide for them.
Do you wish things were a lot simpler for the celiac community? F**k yeah!