It turns out gluten-free products are a big deal in this community, and a Bellingham company is looking to offer more in that niche.
When Christie Jaquette and Ron Cupples took over Bellingham Flat Bread & Bakery three years ago, they knew customers were asking about baked goods without gluten. It's been no small task trying to bake items like bread and cookies without gluten that have acceptable texture and taste, but they now have about 40 items for customers to choose from.
"The stories we hear from customers have been amazing," said Jaquette, who noted the holidays are particularly a big deal for people who could enjoy traditional foods like stuffing and bread.
Since the products do not come from a designated gluten-free kitchen, Bellingham Flat Bread's products are actually considered gluten free'r. The company takes a variety of precautions to prevent cross-contaminating the products, including baking only gluten-free products on designated days and using different cutting boards.
"No matter how much we clean and take precautions, we can't say we are celiac approved," she said.
That may change in the coming year. They are hoping to get a second location, which would allow them to bake gluten-free products in one dedicated kitchen.
The company also is planning to expand its gluten free'r deli sandwich selection that is in a variety of restaurants and stores in the community.
Making baked goods without gluten can be challenging. Gluten helps make products like bread rise and hold together. One of the biggest accomplishments for Bellingham Flat Bread was making a pancake blend that's available in local restaurants like Bellingham's Diamond Jim's Grill.
"That's a big deal, especially for kids," Jaquette said. "Being able to order something like pancakes at Diamond Jim's is a thrill for someone who hasn't tried it."
Details about the company can be found on its Facebook page or by calling 360-714-3103.
BIG FAT FISH CO. TO BECOME EXTREMES SPORTS GRILL
Big changes are coming soon for the Big Fat Fish Co. restaurant in Fairhaven.
Owner Brian Tines has taken on a business partner and in the third week of February will convert the restaurant to a sports-themed eatery called Extremes Sports Grill. The new business partner is Carl Schuessler, who operates Extremes Sports Grill at 4156 Meridian St. The Meridian Street Extremes will continue to operate after the conversion takes place in Fairhaven.
Tines said he wanted to delay the changes until after Valentines Day to give his customers a chance to redeem gift certificates and get in one more romantic lunch or dinner at the 8-year-old restaurant known for its steaks and seafood.
Changes to the restaurant include bringing in flat-screen televisions and having a menu similar to the Extremes on Meridian. It'll also have a family-friendly atmosphere, according to Tines.
The reason for the change is because Bellingham has a lack of sports-theme restaurants.
"I also wanted to change the restaurant to a more casual place," Tines said.
Big Fat Fish Co. is open for lunch Friday through Sunday and every day for dinner. For more information or to make reservations, call 360-733-2159.
ESTELLE'S TO FOCUS ON COFFEE ROASTING
Estelle's Fresh Roast Coffee Co. is now operating on a full-time basis. Lydia Blakeway and her daughter, Kristen Gunderson, decided to sublease part of the space at 4073 Hannegan Road to Just Philly and use the space upstairs to focus on roasting coffee. The space had previously been used as Gigi's Deli & Café.
"We did well with the restaurant, but we decided we wanted to focus on coffee and more community events and fundraisers," Blakeway said.
The coffee company has a variety of blends, including organic, a "redneck" variety and French roast, with coffee beans coming from Vista Clara Coffee. Vista Clara was founded by Dave Stewart, who also founded Stewart Brothers Coffee in 1970. Stewart Brothers later became Seattle's Best Coffee.
Part of the sales proceeds will go to a variety of local fundraisers. For example, during the holidays a portion of the coffee sales went to Toys for Tots. They also want to do fundraisers for other organizations, including schools.
The coffee can be purchased in bags at 4073 Hannegan Road. For details, visit the company's Facebook page or call 360-441-7698 or 360-595-7440.
-- Games and Things is now Peter's Games and Things after Peter Wort took over ownership earlier this month. The store is at 3550 Meridian St., near the Sears Hometown Store. Wort's store focuses on board games, miniatures, puzzles and brain teasers. Wort said the store is off to a good start in 2014, with people stocking up on games after the holidays. "(Games) are a good way to connect with family and friends," he said. The store is open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For details, call 360-756-2254 or visit its Facebook page.
Jalapenos, which has three restaurants in Bellingham, now has two regular spots for its food truck. Affectionately called the Taco Bus by owner Jesse Cantu, the truck will be at Bakerview Square every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It also will be available at The Color Pot in downtown Bellingham from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.