Vin-Chet Bakery, Buffalo, N.Y., has been in business since 1946, but recently found a niche in gluten-free products that owner Joseph Mangano says has given a boost to his business and offers even greater growth potential.
Based on customer requests, Vin-Chet began experimenting with gluten-free products about two years ago. “Some customers with celiac disease asked me to help them,” Mangano said. “I was hesitant at first because if I can’t make it taste good, I won’t even do it.”
Today, the bakery’s gluten-free line of products includes breads, rolls, brownies, cakes, cookies and, most recently, a line of frozen pizzas. He tests the gluten-free products on his non-celiac customers to see if the products stand up in flavor and quality to his traditional line. The gluten-free pizzas, in particular, have been a big hit. Mangano par-bakes the crusts; tops them with sauce, cheese and other gluten-free toppings; packages them; and freezes the pizzas for customers to purchase and finish baking at home.
Vin-Chet has become the go-to bakery in its area for this highly-specialized line of products. The gluten-free line is produced in a dedicated flourless area of the bakery, and the bakery has developed its own blend of ingredients, which includes sorghum flour, potato starch and tapioca starch, to use as a base for most of the product line.
“Most other bakeries in the area send customers with gluten-free needs our way now. We’re thinking about completely changing the entire bakery over to gluten-free products,” Mangano said.
He admits getting into the gluten-free business is not for everyone, but his business really grew by connecting with the gluten-free community through his website, his customers and gluten intolerance share groups.
“Customers with celiac are very supportive of one another,” Mangano adds. “Once one hears about your products and likes them, the word spreads quickly.”
The bakery has added a new website specifically designed for the gluten-free portion of it's business.