Gluten-free restaurant opens, provides options for gluten intolerant

Patrons talk amongst themselves during the lunch rush at WheatLess, a gluten-free restaurant located in Buckhead Square. The menu at WheatLess offers a variety of gluten-free food options and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Alyssa Pointer/HERALD

Kierstin Kirk

The age-old issue of people being allergic to gluten and not being able to eat the foods they love is now being helped with the opening of a new restaurant on Campbell Lane. The gluten-free restaurant, appropriately named WheatLess, opened last week on Tuesday. 

“We had an unadvertised opening on the 20th so we could work out the kinks and what not, and then our grand opening was on the 28th,” owner Michael Cowles said. 

Before opening the restaurant, Cowles worked as a manager at Aldi. He owns the restaurant with his sister, Amanda, and Vedran Kusturica, who used to work at Aldi with him. 

“We got the idea when we saw how well the gluten-free products were selling and how high the demand for it was,” Cowles said. 

The idea to open a gluten-free restaurant was also sparked when Cowles saw a friend’s struggle with finding gluten-free food. 

“When we wanted to go out to eat, we could either go to a restaurant she could eat at and we didn’t like the food, or go to a restaurant we liked and she could only have maybe a salad with grilled chicken and no croutons,” Cowles said.

The restaurant’s decor is simple, with the open space decorated with an assortment of black chairs and darkly stained table tops, with the restaurant’s namesake displayed in large metal letters above the drink station.  

“We try to go for the industrial farmer look, we put a lot of the emphasis on being wheat-free and making our own food, so that’s where we get that look,” Cowles said. 

Candace Darbee, a manager at Wheatless, said her favorite part of working at the restaurant would be providing a product people allergic to gluten couldn’t normally eat.

“A lot of the time they can only have a fruit or vegetable or some protein, and we make our own bread with a special kind of flour that’s wheat-free so they can eat it,” Darbee said. “It’s awesome to see their faces light up when we bring out, like, fried chicken because they haven’t had it in years.”

 Darbee said they’ve seen very positive feedback from the community. She said word of mouth would have to be their most prominent form of advertising.

“People will take menus with them and give them to friends of family who have the gluten allergy and spread the word about us,” Darbee said.

Overall, the restaurant has been a very positive addition to Bowling Green and Cowles said they’re moving right along. 

“There are still some kinks to work out like any other restaurant but with the quality and taste, people seem to like it,” Cowles said.