Local Pizza Chain Makes Gluten-Free Connection (BOISE, ID) Dining out gluten-free in the Treasure Valley is not an easy task. Doing it affordably is even more of a challenge. Recently Chicago Connection, the locally-owned chain of pizza restaurants in Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa and Caldwell, unveiled an inexpensive menu option for residents with wheat allergies: gluten-free pizza.
“If you’ve enjoyed something before but have gone without it for over a decade, you can just imagine what it’s like to experience again,” says Boise resident Jinx McAllister. “My first gluten-free pizza from Chicago Connection nearly brought me to tears.”
McAllister was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1997. At the time, the digestive disorder was thought to be rare, affecting only one in 10,000 people. Now, medical professionals estimate that one in every 133 people has celiac disease, which damages the small intestine when a sufferer ingests gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
McAllister, like many other celiacs, experienced years of inexplicable, debilitating illnesses, including anemia, severe muscle cramps, stomach disorders and exhaustion. The only cure, she found, is a strict gluten-free diet. Slip up, and the side effects are severe, but sticking to a no-wheat regime is tough. “It’s been incredibly difficult to go out to eat, and even to shop and prepare gluten-free foods for myself,” McAllister says.
Kim Pentland, a Kuna resident and mother of two young children afflicted with celiac disease, agrees. “We have to look at everything we buy. We have to take our own food almost everywhere,” she says. “Some restaurants have gluten-free options, but they’re more expensive. And we can’t just go to a fast food restaurant and order something. I was really glad to find gluten-free pizza at Chicago Connection.”
Chicago Connection takes steps to prevent cross-contamination when preparing its gluten-free pizzas. Each pizza is baked, cut and served in its own pan to prevent it from touching any flour-contaminated surfaces in the kitchen or dining area.
“We decided to offer gluten-free pizzas at all of our locations because we recognized the number of people who have celiac disease and other food allergies, and we wanted to give them an affordable choice when dining out or eating in,” says Joy Kealey, owner of Chicago Connection.
Chicago Connection’s gluten-free pizza is available in a 10-inch size with any toppings for only $2 more than the regular price. Gluten-free brownies and beer are now also offered at every location. For a limited time, Chicago Connection is giving away a free gluten-free brownie with the purchase of a gluten-free pizza.