Lots to discuss this week. Some uplifting (my mobile app!), some misleading (the FDA and gluten free labeling) and some downright frustrating. And that’s where we’ll kick things off.
First…a little background. Little Beet Table opened as a 100% gluten-free restaurant in 2014. I have been to the one in NYC on numerous occasions and it is fantastic. Cool atmosphere, great menu, delicious food and SAFE TO EAT. And I cannot emphasize that last point enough. Eating without fear. It’s a celiac’s dream. They have since expanded to Connecticut and Maryland. And life was good.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. Little Beet Table is no longer 100% gluten-free. Feel free to let out a scream of anguish at this point. Or if there are no kids around…a few choice curse words may make you feel better as well. So let’s tackle this a few points at a time, Gluten Dude self-interview style.
Dude…how did you find out?
Is it on the home page of their website? Nope.
How about Twitter? On August 21st, they tweeted that “After spending the past six years fostering a spirit of growth and learning more about our guests’ needs, we introduce to you a new food philosophy.” Nothing about gluten unless you clicked the link.
And Facebook? Not one word about it. Their last post was in March.
I only found out because people in the celiac community messaged me about it. Note to Little Beet Table: Hire someone who knows how to communicate with your audience on social media.
Why did they do it?
They have a “New Food Philosophy”, which you can only find by seeing a small link in the footer of the website. This philosophy includes the following blurbs:
“After cultivating a spirit of growth and spending the past six years learning more about our guests’ needs, we introduce to you, our community, a new food philosophy.”
Dude note: Ummm…weren’t a lot of your guests’ needs based around the need to be gluten-free for medical reasons?
“Rather than move away from being gluten-free, we’re moving towards being inclusive to all health goals, alternative diets, allergens, intolerances and lifestyle choices.”
Dude note: For a celiac, eating GF is not a health goal, an alternative diet and certainly not a lifestyle choice. It’s our medicine. It’s how we avoid our insides getting destroyed.
“Our original gluten-free approach will ALWAYS be held close when we develop menus. Our Little Beet Table menus will continue to delineate between anything that is gluten free or contains gluten. Strict cross-contamination protocols will remain in place. And most importantly, every dish on our Little Beet Table menus can still be made gluten free.”
Dude note: Easier said than done, but if they can do it…good.
“We appreciate all of our guests so much, and we hold a special place for our most loyal community members like yourself.”
Dude note: Just stop it.
How do you feel about it?
I have always said that I understand a business’ first priority is to make money and if any business feels they can increase their profits by changing things up, well…they have every right to do it.
But personally…this just sucks for various reasons.
- Obviously, the celiac community lost a safe place to eat and that is just a total bummer. There are already a handful of GF restaurants that have closed down to this #$@&%*! Virus and now an establishment that was a safe house for us is off the list. It honestly just makes me sad.
- I loved eating there. Great food. Great drinks. Cool vibe. And I’ll just miss it.
- How they went about it, to me, was a slap in the face. A hard to find page on their website? The celiac community had their backs for 6 years and I feel they could have been a hell of a lot more transparent about it.
- Did I mention I was sad about it?
What steps are they taking to ensure the safety for the celiac community (as much as possible)?
This is where they truly have failed. Their updated menu has a small note under certain items that “gluten-free options are available upon request”. You would think, at least in the first few months, they would make it very open that they are no longer 100% gluten-free. From the host down to the server…the customer should be notified. It’s not happening. Here’s a case in point from a fellow celiac who contacted me this morning.
I’m completely devastated. I was so excited when I saw there was a location in Greenwich, I was there celebrating my anniversary and couldn’t believe how perfect that I get to eat there. No one said a word! The waiter seemed to think the bread WAS gluten free. We only realized when he told us the bakery where they got it (Orwashers).
It was a place where I felt so safe and taken care of. Now I’m going to have trust issues! Not to mention horrific DH for a month.
If this is what we can expect from them, forget about it.
Last question…are the fast-casual Little Beet restaurants still 100% gluten free?
They are…for now.
But if they change…how will we know?