Gluten-free at Jason's Deli
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Jul 10 2010

Gluten-free at Jason's Deli

Last month Kimberly Bouldin announced that Jason’s Deli was going to introduce Udi’s gluten-free bread to their menus July 5th.  This was huge news for the gluten-free community, finally a national deli chain where we could eat the same as everyone else.  And for anyone who is familiar with gluten-free bread you know that Udi’s is one of the top breads out there.  It is a bread that tastes great straight out of the package, no heating or toasting necessary.  Once I discovered Udi’s it has been difficult to try other breads, because I love how I can just make a sandwich as easily as I did before being gluten-free with equally, if not better, amazing results.

On July 6th, I decided I would give Jason’s Deli a try.   Before I headed out, I checked their allergen list online to prepare myself for what I could and could not eat.  Unfortunately, I decided to go at lunch time so it was extremely busy.  I have not been to a Jason’s Deli for years, so I looked at the menu, and could clearly see where items were listed with a ‘g’ for gluten-free, however on their regular menu it didn’t mention anything about sandwiches being safe, just salads and some of their potatoes.  I know when I looked online it showed that their meats and cheeses were safe, but it was not reflected on the menu.  I asked the server at the counter and he wasn’t sure either, and said if it is not listed with a ‘g’ it would not be safe.  I was so confused.  He said they had gluten-free bread, and I could see the Udi’s loaves behind the counter, but if it didn’t list which meats and cheeses were safe, what would I have on my sandwich bread?

I asked to talk to a manager, and he showed me a special gluten-free menu they had behind the counter.  He explained how since they just started it the previous day they were still pretty new to it.  I suggested that they keep the gluten-free menu in front so people could see it, and he replied that they only had 4 so they would wait until someone asked to look at them.  I went ahead and ordered a roasted turkey and cheddar sandwich with a side of potato salad for myself and a tuna salad sandwich with hummus and chips for my husband, both on gluten-free bread.

As I waited and watched the sandwich makers make sandwiches I had a sudden panic about cross-contamination.  I quickly went up and asked the manager if they use new gloves and a separate surface when making gluten-free sandwiches.  He told me no, but they could.  This worried me.  I told him that yes absolutely, I would like them to use new gloves and a separate surface and when my sandwich was complete he assured me that he helped make them and made sure they used a clean area.  Again, I can understand they are new to this, but I would have hopped the staff would have been well-trained before the introduction because cross-contamination would be extremely easy here.

I took the sandwiches and set off to enjoy my lunch poolside.  The end result was fantastic.  The turkey sandwich was just like the deli sandwiches I enjoyed when living in NYC..massive!  The tuna salad was delicious too, and usually I am not a huge fan of potato salad, but this one has got to be my favorite, it was kind of like a mashed potato salad.  It was so nice to be able to eat a sandwich from a chain like every other person.

In the end, I had a very good experience and will go back again.  However, I can see how the opportunity for cross contamination would be great, and it is necessary to ask them to change gloves and use a separate, cleaned surface from the rest of their sandwiches.  Hopefully once they have been doing this for a while, they will know to do this on their own.  I would also suggest that they make the special gluten-free menu readily available and that they mark the finished sandwich on the outside of the wrapper as being gluten-free, perhaps with a sticker or even a big ‘G’ written on it.  This would avoid any confusion when next to gluten sandwiches, and give some piece of mind to the customer.

A big thank you goes out to Jason’s Deli for providing to the growing gluten-free population!

Article Written by:

Anne is a self-proclaimed foodie who loves eating out as much as cooking for friends. Since being diagnosed with celiac, she has been determined to not let it put a damper on her food adventures, and to raise awareness among the general public. Anne recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta and is enjoying exploring the gluten-free wonders in her new city. Follow Anne on Twitter and Google+!

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Comments

  1. I hope Jason’s get their new gf service running smoothly. My sandwich there was gluten-free and delicious, but it was clear that gf is totally new to the location we visited in Duluth. The (non management) staff is mostly young and might turn over frequently so ongoing reminders need to be in place in order for them to really understand safe gf service. I’m looking forward to going back for another yummy sandwich soon and I’m going to try the free ice cream too!

  2. Anne Steib says:

    I felt great after mine, but I definitely had to guide them as to what to do, even the manager, so that makes me a bit weary, but the results this time were great.

  3. Laura says:

    I had the same experience w/ the sandwich maker not knowing about cross contamination. I had to hover over him at the window to be sure.
    And the manager told me the free ice cream isn’t gluten free :(

  4. L B Feiner says:

    Great progress. I hope it speads to other retauranteurs.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Jason’s Deli has officially announced their pairing with Udi’s bread. They will not have the gluten-free menu online, but it will be available in the restaurant. For more information, click here. [...]

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