By Casey Thorp: Gluten free eating practices have gained a spot in the limelight recently. Although only 1% of the population is diagnosed with celiac disease – an allergy to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat products – a higher percentage of people have “gluten sensitivity”, and many more eat gluten free just for a healthier diet/lifestyle. Allergy to wheat is one of the Top 8 Most Common Food Allergies, and there are gluten free aisles in many popular grocery stores including ShopRite, Wegmans and Whole Foods.
Gluten free is also a big trend in Hollywood, creating even more pop culture buzz around the diet. Actresses including Zooey Deschanel, Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow are all self-proclaimed gluten free eaters. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, from The View, even released a book about the benefits of the diet and how to overcome the difficulties of creating a gluten free lifestyle (The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide).
There are many health benefits to eating a gluten-free diet, even if you are not allergic to gluten. Among these are weight loss, increased energy and the alleviation of symptoms for many diseases ranging from migraines to autism. It also helps your digestive health, and can lower bad cholesterol. Many people incorporate it simply in an attempt to eat a fresher, more whole and organic diet.
People who are diagnosed with celiac disease need to worry about cross-contamination when eating out. This can cause a hassle, to say the least. Whether you need a kitchen that operates gluten free or are simply looking for gluten free menu choices, it is much easier to choose a restaurant if there is a reliable food franchise that is consistent with their gluten free practices.
Many popular food franchises are catering to the gluten free demand.
Zpizza, a pizza franchise whose motto is The Pure One, offers gluten free options such as their mozzarella cheese, and certain sauces and toppings, as well as an entirely gluten free pie (made on a separate workstation). They have partnered with Autism Speaks, to further their efforts towards offering options that are consistent with a GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet.
Elevation Burger, the largest better burger franchise to offer 100% organic beef, is another food franchise that is sensitive to the needs of its gluten free patrons. Their fries are gluten free, are cooked in dedicated fryers, and are fried in olive oil. They grill their buns separately from the meat, making the meat celiac friendly. You can also request to have your bun wrapped in lettuce instead of bread. For dessert, they use Blue Bunny (gluten free) ice cream for their hand-scooped milkshakes.
Tossed, the home of garden fresh salads, crepe wraps and sandwiches, offers a lineup of gluten free menu suggestions for customers which consists of over a dozen different salads. They also have gluten free guidelines on which toss-ins, toppings and dressings to add for guests who opt to use the “Design Your Own” salad alternative. Eric Clark, COO of Tossed Franchise Corporation, says “Between our Signature and ‘Design Your Own’ choices, there are literally thousands of ways to enjoy a flavorful, gluten-free meal at Tossed”
Merzi, a fast casual Indian food franchise, offers a variety of gluten free products, and lists clearly, for their staff and for their patrons, which of their menu items contain the most popular food allergens – including wheat/gluten - via an ingredients checklist.
Freshii, a health food franchise, offers custom built orders that cater to many dietary restrictions. From their salads to soups and rice bowls, all can be custom made for a gluten free diet. Freshii also offers rice noodles, gluten free brownies and chips, and uses one set of utensils for each ingredient to prevent cross-contamination.
Although diet fads seem to come and go, gluten free is a mainstream trend. Those food franchises, such as zpizza, Elevation Burger, Freshii, Tossed and Merzi, who cater to this population, will see the benefits of an increased loyalty and appreciation from the customers struggling to accommodate their diet restrictions.
As Founder and CEO of Fransmart, Dan Rowe has turned dozens of emerging restaurant concepts into national and global chains. Mr. Rowe is a franchisee, master franchisee, franchisor, consultant, strategist, and private equity investor. He has published several expert opinion articles and spoken at numerous restaurant and franchise industry conferences. Dan is also a guest blogger for CNBC through his membership in YPO - Young Presidents' Organization. Connect with Dan Rowe on LinkedIn
As Fransmart's Vice President of Marketing, Kristin Martonik directs global franchise marketing for Fransmart’s portfolio brands. She has led franchise marketing for dozens of regional, national and global chains. Her expertise areas include strategic marketing consulting, sales development, PR, CRM and marketing automation, SEM and SEO, brand development, advertising, and print and digital design. Kristin has 15 years of experience in international business and marketing, and has also worked in the music industry. Kristin has been with Fransmart since 2004. Connect with Kristin Martonik on LinkedIn
As Vice President of Sales, Ryan Durishin helps food operators build wealth by expanding their portfolio with high growth, emerging restaurant brands. Ryan consults closely with both prospective franchisees and Fransmart franchisors, and manages and mentors our franchise development team. Ryan has extensive experience in both domestic and international development. He has over twelve years of experience in Sales, Marketing, and Business Development, and he has been with Fransmart since 2010. Connect with Ryan Durishin on LinkedIn
As a Senior Director of Development, Paul Tran facilitates franchise deals between investors and emerging, high growth restaurant brands, with a specialization in global markets. He also has experience in corporate banking; private, alternative, and business investments; and business-to-business, consultative, and high-ticket sales and marketing. Paul is a former restaurant founder / owner, and a current restaurant franchisee. Paul has been with Fransmart since 2007. Connect with Paul Tran on LinkedIn
As the Vice President of Brand Management for Fransmart, Kathy Thombs works closely with new and existing restaurant brand franchisors and the Fransmart development team, to ensure seamless and successful franchise partnerships. Her areas of expertise include brand strategy and development, franchise sales process and operations, franchise compliance - including the ever-changing federal and state franchise regulations, marketing strategy, analytics, and CRM proficiency. Kathy has been with the company since 2003. Connect with Kathy Thombs on LinkedIn
Mark Treptow is a Senior Director of Development at Fransmart, and founding shareholder in a privately held QSR concept. Mark drives franchise growth for brands in Fransmart’s restaurant portfolio. Mark has been involved in the formation and growth of three successful start-up companies. At Fransmart, Mark works with investors, business owners, corporate executives, and existing franchise operators to expand their investments through multi-unit or master franchise development. Mark has been with Fransmart since 2008. Connect with Mark Treptow on LinkedIn
As our Brand Marketing Coordinator, Jimmy consults our franchise brands on B2C marketing programs, branding and social media, local store marketing, and SEO / content marketing. He is a creative thinker, with a unique ability to develop breakthrough campaigns; in fact, he has a viral YouTube.com video with over 1M views under his belt. Jimmy helps our brands be seen and heard in a loud and often cluttered digital marketplace. He has been an Assistant Account Executive at ad agency Greenfield/Belser, a Marketing Associate at LivingSocial, and a copywriter. Connect with Jimmy on LinkedIn
Casey Thorp is Fransmart's Public Relations & Marketing Systems Manager, overseeing our CRM and Marketing Automation programs. Casey manages our candidate nurturing programs, to ensure franchise candidates receive the latest Fransmart brand updates. She works with industry and regional media to facilitate strong PR exposure for our brands. Casey forges relationships and represents Fransmart with service providers, franchisors, franchise candidates and media. She has a strong background in digital marketing, and has been with Fransmart since 2011. Connect with Casey on LinkedIn
As a Director of Business Development at Fransmart, Jenn brings a wealth of knowledge to the Franmsart team in the areas of client relations, social and traditional media, and business development. Jenn has previously served as the Northeast Account Manager for LivingSocial, and was a Production Assistant for Fox News Channel. Jenn has a keen interest in identifying hot emerging restaurant brands, assisting with their franchise development strategy, and matching these high-growth concepts with qualified prospective franchisees. Connect with Jenn Pellegrino on LinkedIn