Pizza Ranch announced that, to accommodate customers with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, it has rolled out a gluten-free crust for its pizzas.
Nancy Jordahl, culinary research and development director for the Orange City, Iowa–based pizza buffet chain, says that because Pizza Ranch does not manufacture its own crust, she’s been carefully searching for a gluten-free option from providers for a while.
“We’ve been getting some requests from guests over the last two years, and we looked at products in the market,” she says.
“Initially we didn’t find anything that we were comfortable with, and then we found a par-baked frozen crust that we took out to a field test, and our guests who have celiac [disease] and who are gluten-intolerant said that it was good, that they liked it. So we decided to bring it on.”
Jordahl says that when looking for possible gluten-free crust options, she looked at everything from the size of available crusts to the packaging that it came in. And while she says the final choice is a tasty pick for customers, it still won’t taste entirely like other Pizza Ranch crusts.
“When 60 percent of a product is wheat flour and you have to take that out and substitute other ingredients, then of course there are some differences,” she says.
The crust, Jordahl says, has been available in Pizza Ranch’s stores for a few months, and has already made a splash with those who have to avoid foods with gluten.
“I’ve got managers and owners who call me and say they’re surprised at how many they sell,” she says. “We get comment cards from our guests, and they’re really thankful that now their whole family can go out and enjoy a restaurant meal.”
Jordahl says customers can customize their own pizzas with the gluten-free crust, or order any of the concept’s specialties. The only other ingredient with gluten on the menu, she says, is streusel used on top of one of its dessert pizzas.
By Sam Oches