Moo Cluck Booooooooooooo!

moo cluck moo not gluten free

Ok…lots of thoughts spinning in my empty head about this. Some you’ll agree with and some…not too sure. Let’s start with the facts.

Fact: Moo Cluck Moo is a popular burger/chicken joint in Michigan that specializes in food with less hormones, preservatives and other chemicals. No high fructose corn syrup or other psuedo-foods. Hence their tagline: Eat. Better.. They have two locations and I believe they are also opening up another one in Ford Field (where the Lions play NFL games).

Fact: Their CEO, Brian Parker, pays his employees $15/hr. He says “I’m taking less money personally. My question is, how much do we have to make? How big of a pile of money do CEOs have to sit on?”

Fact: A few years back, the restaurants decided to go 100% gluten-free. Completely changed the menu. Called all manufacturers. Developed their own gluten-free rolls. They went so far with it that their employees were not even allowed to bring gluten into the restaurant. It was a celiac dream-come-true and from what I’ve read, everything was top-notch.

So based on the above facts, I love everything about this place. I guess you can now see where this is going.

They just announced that they are no longer a completely gluten-free facility as they are now making “Better Buns” in-house that are NOT gluten-free. They will still offer the gluten-free rolls but with cross-contamination galore, Moo Cluck Moo’s official statement is the following:

“We cannot guarantee that there will be no cross-contamination and it is recommended that celiacs do not dine with us.”

Yeah…total bummer. I get it. And we can mourn the loss of a place that took care of us.

But look, Moo Cluck Moo is a business. Their goal, like any other business, is to make money. And if they think they can make more money by serving non gluten-free items, well…the market will dictate if it was the right decision or not. They were celiac-safe for several years, and while it’s ok to be bummed, I didn’t love some of the reactions from the celiac community. Here are some of the comments on their FB page:

“Thanks for ruining it for us who are truly GF and who can’t risk cross contamination!”
“You just slapped your loyal customers in the face!!! I’m speechless!!!!”
“Your gluten free following built you. Thanks for the appreciation and consideration.”
“Hope you know you guys blackballed yourselves in the celiac community.”

Listen…it sucks, no doubt. But you know what…that’s also the life of a celiac. I had a burger joint close to me that was gluten-free as well. Unbelievably sinful. It closed down last year. I was devastated for a day. But mostly…I was sad for the owners. They were good people and put out good food, but could just never gain the traction necessary to stay in business.

I’d say let’s appreciate them for giving the community a few years of a safe establishment to eat and wish them well on their journey forward. Let’s appreciate the fact that they are being open and honest about it, as compared to other restaurants who say they are safe when they really are not. And hopefully, another restaurant will open that will fill the gluten-free vacuum left behind by Moo Cluck Moo.

I do have a few words of advice for Moo Cluck Moo. Please make it more than obvious that you are no longer a gluten-free establishment. The celiac community had your back for a few years and you owe it to them so nobody gets sick. Your website does not mention the news AT ALL. Please put it on the home page, front and center. Put signs on your doors for the next few months. When someone orders a gluten-free roll, tell them that you cannot guarantee it is completely safe. Go above and beyond for the next few months please.

Unless you have celiac disease, you have no idea what it’s like to lose a “safe” zone where you can eat. It’s beyond disappointing. Let’s hope another one takes its place. Anyone want to open a burger joint???

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11 thoughts on “Moo Cluck Booooooooooooo!”

  1. Colette (Sullivan) Ledoux

    The restaurant no doubt made a valiant effort attempting to be 100% GF, but you’re right gluten dude, small businesses need to thrive to survive, and I’m sure their decision was not an easy one to make. They should be fine however, because I’m quite certain, statistically, there are more gluten avoiders than confirmed celiacs who will continue to enjoy their fare.

    What’s more offensive to me as far as restaurants go, refers to the post I made here last evening regarding a restaurant that refers to us as “glutarded,” which is shockingly offensive. I had hoped that the Rapscallion Restaurant (Hamilton, Ontario), would hear from the celiac community via their FB page. Labelling any particular group with a negative connotation, implied or otherwise, is demeaning, and sets our cause back to the dark ages, which wasn’t so long ago…….

    1. I am glad that I’m not the only person offended by “Glutarded”. I’ve seen Celiac’s using the term and always made my shackles rise but was afraid to be the only one saying it was offensive.

  2. I went by a joint that had been sort of pretend to be GF friendly, with GF labels on a menu that included things in a shared fryer (so not really GF). I thought it would be OK until they served me a GF dish with a stray piece of macaroni in it… manager apologized up and down, yada yada. Yesterday I stopped in because I thought I’d give them another chance, but they’ve removed all the GF mentions from the menu! Backlash?? Or did they finally wise up that they can’t label shared fryer items GF? Hostess said the servers could tell you what was safe. So I asked about the steak – guy says “oh that’s totally GF”. I probe: “Are you sure? Is it marinated with any soy sauce?”. He replies – “oh well yeah, there’s soy sauce but…” I walked out. So disappointed, but also glad that I don’t have to bother going back again.

  3. As usual, I totally agree with you, Dude, especially on full disclosure on the web site as well as all over the restaurant. Money is money; wish gluten-free made the world go ’round! Re-set to ever-vigilant!

  4. I think it’s unfortunate that people have to berate and belittle them for the choice I’m assuming they HAD to make. It’s a small business. It’s not a huge chain. They did what they could, and they obviously feel, at this point, they need to change things. They are in it to make money too. I feel that as long as they make it well known that things have changed, they have to do what they have to do to stay afloat. Period.

  5. Dear Dude,
    I live in Michigan and have eaten here before. I spoke at length with Brian over email the other day and shared his comments. You can read my blogpost here about the communication. http://miglutenfreegal.blogspot.com/2016/08/gluten-comes-back-to-moo-cluck.html
    There are notices up in the store stating the change.
    ONE MAJOR CORRECTION- Their buns are NOT BEING MADE in house. The regular buns are made off site by One Bite At A Time. The gluten-free rolls are made off-site at Rumi’s Passion. The only change to their menu is the addition of the bun. Everything else remains gluten free. As they expand, it is impossible for Rumi’s to supply them with enough gluten-free rolls. And they won’t go with another manufacturer, because it is important to them that they use a Michigan made product.
    They will be at Ford Field, and will have to work in a shared kitchen. This is another of the main reasons for their change. I will admit that I most likely won’t eat here again , but I don’t live in Metro Detroit. (Besides, when I go to that area I eat at Renee’s PIzzera- 100% gluten-free and nut-free!)
    I tried to explain to Brian that as much as he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, it will happen. I told him he doesn’t understand what it’s like to live with this disease.
    I also agree with you that the nasty comments from those of us in the community don’t necessarily help. Sometimes I think we are a little to angry and quick to judge without knowing everything. I wish Moo Cluck Moo the best of luck. Thank you for sharing our local story, and I hope my blog post will help shed some light on the situation.

  6. Dear Dude,
    I live in Michigan and have eaten here before. I spoke at length with Brian over email the other day and shared his comments. You can read my blogpost here about the communication. http://miglutenfreegal.blogspot.com/2016/08/gluten-comes-back-to-moo-cluck.html
    There are notices up in the store stating the change.
    ONE MAJOR CORRECTION- Their buns are NOT BEING MADE in house. The regular buns are made off site by One Bite At A Time. The gluten-free rolls are made off-site at Rumi’s Passion. The only change to their menu is the addition of the bun. Everything else remains gluten free. As they expand, it is impossible for Rumi’s to supply them with enough gluten-free rolls. And they won’t go with another manufacturer, because it is important to them that they use a Michigan made product.
    They will be at Ford Field, and will have to work in a shared kitchen. This is another of the main reasons for their change. I will admit that I most likely won’t eat here again , but I don’t live in Metro Detroit. (Besides, when I go to that area I eat at Renee’s Pizzeria- 100% gluten-free and nut-free!)
    I tried to explain to Brian that as much as he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, it will happen. I told him he doesn’t understand what it’s like to live with this disease.
    I also agree with you that the nasty comments from those of us in the community don’t necessarily help. Sometimes I think we are a little to angry and quick to judge without knowing everything. I wish Moo Cluck Moo the best of luck. Thank you for sharing our local story, and I hope my blog post will help shed some light on the situation.

  7. As long as customers are given proper notice, the restaurant has to do what is best for them. I have a feeling they will lose all of the celiac trade and may end up regretting this decision, but only time will tell. It will be very interesting to see what happens. Meanwhile if that celiac clientele sends enough complaints , they might pay attention.

  8. As the owner of a a 5 star rated, completely GF and mostly allergen free cafe, deli and bakery in MD; I can understand why they have made this choice. I have been in business for 6.5 years and my cafe has been open for 4 years and I still don’t take a paycheck. My husband and I funded this with our retirement accounts. We live off what tips we get and supplement with my husband’s retirement account. What the Celiac community needs to realize is that we cater to a very small population; just 1.3% (Celiac Disease) need to eat completely GF! So, in a town with a population of 100,000 that means there are about 1,300 celiacs who need to eat at the restaurant at least twice a week to keep them in business. However, that rarely happens! We have a handful of people who are in 1 or 2 times a week. The rest are sporadic and we are lucky that our food is good enough to allow other family members to be able to enjoy pizza and subs too. However, the price is higher and there are so many places offering a “GF Menu” that may or not be GF and people opt for convenience and then complain when they are “glutened” in mainstream restaurants. For example Chick Fil A would not survive if only 1.3 percent of the population absolutely needed to eat there! If they did survive, their prices would be a lot higher especially if they were completely GF and were able to survive. The cold hard truth is that we survive by people finding us on specialty apps who are passing through the area and a handful of regular customers. There are customers who live within 10 miles of us and we hear…”it is just not convenient for us to get here”. Well, to that I say, “if your child wanted the latest video game and it was at the mall; 10 miles away, it would be convenient for you to get there for that!” The bottom line is that the Celiac community needs to support the local places that are there to serve them. The GF fad dieters and many Gluten Sensitive diners don’t patronize us on a regular enough basis to sustain completely GF establishments! Why? Because they can and will take chances when dining out because they don’t have Celiac! We the Celiacs are doing it to ourselves. Moo Cluck Moo did what they needed to do. He is paying his help more than he pays himself, so cut him a break. I can relate, I don’t get paid! However, I have Celiac and a Milk Allergy, so; adding gluten in is not an option for me. Moving to a more densely populated location and adding alcohol is an option. However, adding alcohol would mean that technically I would no longer be considered a completely GF Cafe, Deli and Bakery because beer and alcohol does not need to be labeled and many choices contain gluten. Welcome to the dilemma folks. Choose wisely when you dine out and support the completely GF establishment who is doing it right.

  9. I empathize with the comments of the woman who owns a completely GF cafe. I applaud you for continuing to stay open even though you are unable to take a paycheck. On the other hand I understand celiacs issue with a restaurant that changed from all GF to serving gluten containing food. If they are not producing there gluten containing buns in house serving both should not be that difficult. They could have a dedicated fryer and grill, etc. They should understand cross containment already or can teach it. Restaurants across the country do it all the time.

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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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