Gluten-free restaurant opening soon in Chattanooga - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Gluten-free restaurant opening soon in Chattanooga

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- You've probably heard about the gluten-free movement. Now Chattanooga is about to have a restaurant that serves nothing but gluten-free options. But it's not just a diet craze, it's a health consideration for a lot of people.

"It's like having the flu, but intensified. You feel very weak. You have no strength, and I would have these horrible abdominal pains," explained Amy Eaton who was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2007. The constant pain led her to several visits to her doctor who finally figured out what was wrong.

"I remember laughing later saying okay, God, when I said I didn't want cancer or something serious I didn't want this either," said Eaton, laughing.

But she recovered by cutting out all foods containing gluten, a substance which can elevate Celiac to serious levels, possibly causing cancer down the road.

According to the National Institutes of Health the hereditary disease effects nearly three million Americans--about one out of every 133 people. An estimated 97% of Americans who have it may not know it because it still often goes misdiagnosed. A Mayo Clinic report stated Celiac is four times more common today than in 1950, possibly due to modern methods of growing wheat.

Entrepreneur Karen Wilson saw this information as a business opportunity. She, too, avoids gluten and is opening the first-of-its-kind eatery in Warehouse Row offering an entirely gluten-free menu.

"While grocery stores have more [gluten-free] products, there are limited options for dining out. Limited safe options for dining out," said Wilson.

She believes her Crave Café and Bakery will have an edge over her competitors offering only a few gluten-free items. Wilson says she'll prosper not just because of location but because Crave will serve up ease of mind.

"As far as the restaurant side goes, by being completely gluten-free we prevent the risk of cross-contamination," explained Wilson.

This is great news for those with Celiac, like Eaton, or who simply have a general intolerance for gluten. Eaton works downtown and says she'll become a regular customer at Crave once the doors open.

"It's going to be great," said Eaton. "I'll definitely love having a new lunch option because I have to pack my lunch all the time."

Crave is slated to open in January, 2013. Its focus is breakfast and lunch, along with the bakery and catering service. According to Wilson it would be the only restaurant in Warehouse Row serving breakfast fare. While all items will be gluten-free, some non-vegetarian/non-vegan items will be available.

Not everyone is buying into the gluten-free movement and call it a fad. Americans will spend $7 billion this year on gluten-free foods. For people like Eaton, however, going gluten-free gave her a new lease on life.

"I don't know of any place right now whatsoever that I can go in and order just anything I want on the menu," said Eaton.

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