Flying Apron caters to special dietary needs

Sarah Snellgrove (left) hands Emily Ratliff a fresh juice from Flying Apron Cafe’s new juice bar during the cafe’s three-year anniversary celebration last weekend. - Courtesy of Jorge Martinez
Sarah Snellgrove (left) hands Emily Ratliff a fresh juice from Flying Apron Cafe’s new juice bar during the cafe’s three-year anniversary celebration last weekend.
— image credit: Courtesy of Jorge Martinez

For anyone who is gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive or anyone who has other dietary restrictions, it can be difficult to find a place to eat that is safe.

This is something Shira Firestone is hoping to help people with as manager of Flying Apron Cafe at 16541 Redmond Way in downtown Redmond. She has recently rebooted a speaker series at the gluten-free and vegan cafe dedicated to helping those who are new to the gluten-free lifestyle.

The series, “It’s Not About What you Can’t Eat,” meets from 7-8 p.m. the second Thursday of every month and answers the question of “What’s next?” for those who cannot eat gluten.

Firestone said some of the topics the series has covered and will cover include vegan living, juicing and how to read restaurant menus and know what has gluten and what does not. She added that next month’s meeting will be the last one for the summer and the series will resume come September.

In addition to the speaker series, Firestone said Flying Apron has a monthly book club that meets the fourth Thursday of the month and covers books related to the same topic.

She is also working to turn Flying Apron into a resource center for the gluten-free population in Redmond by providing information about other health and wellness businesses as well as doctors in the area people can turn to.

Firestone’s efforts coincide with Celiac Awareness Month, which is this month and highlights celiac disease. This digestive disease causes damage to the lining of the small intestine due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats.

“A lot of customers, it turns out, we have a lot of celiac customers,” Firestone said.

She added that in honor of Celiac Awareness Month, Flying Apron is holding a month-long food drive to collect gluten-free nonperishables to donate to Hopelink.

Another business Firestone has reached out to is VitaminLife, located at 15830 Redmond Way downtown.

Audrey Levin, an employee for the health food store, said she and Firestone first connected when she interviewed for a job at Flying Apron more than six months ago. Levin said the idea was that she would help out with the bakery, serving customers and washing dishes, and use Flying Apron as a venue to hold meetings for a gluten-free support group she was planning to start.

The job didn’t work out and Levin ended up working at VitaminLife and started her support group, Gluten Free at VitaminLife, at her new job.

She and Firestone reconnected when Firestone came in to the store with fliers for Flying Apron.

“We hit it off right away and ever since,” Levin said.

She said the two businesses support each other by letting their respective customer bases know about the products and services the other business offers.

“That’s really important for a lot of our members,” Levin said.

She added that it’s also nice for their members to know of businesses that cater to their needs that are also nearby.

Firestone said for her, working with other businesses within the community is important because she wants to be a member of the community, not just a business.

And the business — Flying Apron — has been part of the Redmond community for three years.

To celebrate, the cafe held a special event last weekend, which featured a custom cupcake bar as well as a juice bar, the newest addition to Flying Apron’s products and services.

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