The proprietor of Boris Bistro by no means deliberate for his restaurant to be the one licensed gluten-free secure haven in Quebec for these with celiac illness.
However in 2018, when Jean-Marc Lebeau was recognized with the illness himself, he realized how few choices there have been to eat out — so he created one himself.
“All over the place I used to be going, there have been virtually no choices for celiac folks,” he stated.
“I informed my employees, ‘we’ll change completely to gluten-free.’ They usually thought I used to be loopy, possibly I used to be … nevertheless it labored.”
The bistro, situated on McGill Road in Outdated Montreal for the previous 23 years, can be shutting its doorways on Aug. 20 — serving a blow to the gluten-free neighborhood and those that want these choices most.
‘The entire menu is for me’
Celiac illness is an autoimmune dysfunction that may be triggered by gluten. There is not any remedy — besides to keep away from meals during which gluten is discovered, corresponding to bread, pasta, cereal, crackers and lots of different meals. It can be hidden in unlikely locations, like spices, sauces and cheeses.
The illness impacts roughly one per cent of individuals in Canada — that means round 360,000 Canadians, together with greater than 82,000 Quebecers.
Even the tiniest quantity of gluten may cause issues for an individual with celiac illness, which is why Lebeau makes positive there isn’t a cross-contamination at his restaurant.
He says prospects respect a menu curated to their dietary wants.
“They’re so comfortable as a result of they inform us, ‘lastly, I can order what I would like … the entire menu is for me.'”
Staffing, price of gluten-free meals a problem
Boris Bistro is the one restaurant within the province authorized by Celiac Quebec’s licensed gluten-free program. The three different licensed institutions are catering companies.
“To have a restaurant that’s licensed, I might say the principle benefit is the reassurance,” stated Edith Lalanne, govt director of Celiac Quebec.
“The vast majority of celiac persons are hesitant or will merely cease going to eating places as a result of they’re afraid of getting sick,” she stated.
Lebeau says discovering employees after the pandemic has been a problem — one confronted by many companies.
“We now have solely one-third of the employees we have to run the restaurant,” he stated.
That, together with the costlier price of serving gluten-free meals, has made retaining the restaurant open not possible.
Whereas the closure of this beloved bistro will depart folks with celiac illness even fewer choices to eat out, each Lalanne and Lebeau hope extra gluten-free eating places undergo the method of being licensed to offer these with the illness the consolation and security they’re craving.
And though Lebeau is retiring, he says he’d prefer to work as a marketing consultant with different eating places that wish to go gluten-free, providing up the knowledge he is acquired on the job.
“There’s a neighborhood, there’s demand, and I suppose someone else ought to open one.”