By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM -- A new bakery catering to customers wanting gluten-free products is planned for a fall opening at 51 Market St.
“I’m on a mission,” said Chris Durand, who depends on gluten-free food to control his celiac disease.
The bakery, to be called 3 Bears Gluten Free Bakery, is a project of Durand and Faye Ori, whose other ventures include entertainment from Durand and Ori as Cubby T. Clown and Company, and party supplies and entertainment with IYQ Balloon Décor.
They want to offer a variety of cakes, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, bread and cornbread, among other baked products.
He and Ori will also offer gluten-free sandwiches and pizza, and plan on a retail section with things such as mixes for soups, gravies and stuffing.
Durand said he got the idea for the bakery while entertaining in full clown regalia at a festival last year.
“A little girl was sitting on a bench eating munchie stuff out of a baggie,” which he says he recognized as snacks for someone with celiac disease. So he asked her if she had the condition, and when the girl said she did, he told her, “Cubby does too.”
So he brought out his snacks and shared them with her.
“The next day she shows up with some home-made cookies to share with me,” he said.
“I thought it was sad some children can’t have the things other kids can have.”
And that was the inspiration for the bakery and bringing quality baked goods to people who can’t have regular cakes, cookies and bread because of a disease that can cause discomfort at least and can bring on some more serious conditions.
Celiac disease is a reaction in some people to proteins called gluten in wheat and other grains that causes irritation of the small intestines and can interfere with the body’s absorption of nutrients, which can lead to a number of other problems.
Estimates of the number of Americans with celiac disease has varied widely over the years, but reputable online sources of data (National Institutes of Health, University of Chicago) seem to have settled on a figure of one in 133 people. Many people with the disease do not have symptoms, according to the sources.
Knowledge of the condition has increased in recent years, and business has responded, to a degree.
We’ve all seen gluten-free sections in supermarkets, but the selection is usually quite limited, Durand said.
“There are some retail items,” he said, “but frozen bread is still frozen bread. I want products that other retailers don’t have.”
He said that eliminating gluten from one’s diet is the only way to successfully deal with the disease, and in a retail setting, cross-contamination can defeat a person’s efforts.
So he and Ori want to be able to offer fresh products for the public to enjoy without worrying about gluten content.
Durand said the financing, including a bank home equity loan and a microloan from the village, is just about all lined up, as are a contractor to perform about a month’s worth of renovations to the downtown location, an equipment supplier, and wholesalers.
He believes demand for the products will be good. “We’re not even open and people are calling,” he said.
After the renovations and Health Department and labeling approvals, they would like to have the bakery open in the middle of August or early September
Subject to change, the hours of operation will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday and Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For more information people may call 323-0277.