European Street: Gluten-Free Options, But at a Price

Ever spend $20 for lunch for just one person?  I just did.

European Street, known for their lunch sandwiches, dessert case and  beer selection has locations in Riverside, Beaches, San Marco and Beach Near University. Recently they have started serving Gluten-free and vegan options.

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They get their gluten-free bread from Cookie Momsters so you can have pretty much any of their sandwiches on the menu in addition they have vegan cheeses, hummus platters, salads, etc.

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I had a roast beef sandwich with Gluten-free bread, house chips and pickle.  The bread was a little small which made eating the sandwich a bit messy.  But the roast beef was a little warm and juicy.  It was a tasty sandwich.

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For dessert I had the double chocolate gluten-free and vegan cheesecake to go.

Besides being disappointed with a small bun, my meal was not bad.  But DEFINITELY not worth $20.

How did I spend $20? I had nothing special- no cheese, special sauce, add-ons etc.

  • Diet coke $2
  • Plain roast beef sandwich $7.50
  • Gluten-free bread $1.50
  • Dessert was $6
  • Tax and tip $3.19

The cashier obviously has learned to deal with negative reactions to their prices because she just smiled and said “it costs a lot to be good to our bodies.”  I wanted to scream!  You think I am choosing to eat gluten-free?  You think I am on a diet?  No, I have to eat gluten-free for life.  The fact that restaurants can get away with charging more and taking advantage of people that HAVE to avoid food allergens is rediculous.   Jason’s Deli doesn’t charge more for their sandwiches that are gluten-free.  Bonefish in Mandarin doesn’t charge more for me to have gluten-free bread on the table.   It is going to be a long time before I consider going to European Street again.  Maybe if they drop the $1.50 charge for gluten-free bread I will reconsider.

*Please Note: After reading comments and calming down after some initial emotions to the reaction by the cashier I have decided to change my title from Gluten-Free Rip-Off to Gluten-Free Options, But at a Price.  

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “European Street: Gluten-Free Options, But at a Price

  1. Andy

    Hi, I’m one of the E Street owners. I want to apologize for the insensitive comment our cashier made. I’m sure your allergies make dining out challenging enough even without the comments. In defense of our pricing structure, a change from regular sliced bread to either the gluten free, ciabatta or croissant is $1.50, it’s not about taking advantage of anyone. With respect to the dessert, that same slice of pie you had is over $7 at Grassroots. I don’t know how places like Bonefish and Jason’s can afford their policy, but maybe that’s the difference between having four locations and having 100′s.

    I am truely sorry for our cashier’s comment, I will certainly use your post as a training point for our people.

    • Thank you for your reply Andy. Better disclosure about the extra $1.50 and the price of your desserts would also be helpful.

    • Lindsay

      Andy,

      This is irritating to me. It is not our fault as a customer that we physically cannot handle the “standard” bread. It’s like giving people an upcharge for using a handicap ramp when they cannot use the stairs because it cost extra to install it. People don’t choose their handicaps. Rude.

      • Julie

        Amen! And why is gluten-free bread, pizza dough, & pasta so “expensive” anyway? It’s all just rice- & potato-based, two readily available/inexpensive ingredients. Ordered Dominos pizza w/friends the other night. While they each were able to order a large (14″) pizza w/3 toppings apiece for only $7.99 per pie, I had to order two mini pizzas (only puny 10″ size is offered in gluten-free) for $15 each–one of these little “discs” leaves me starving, & I’m only a 100-lb. female–making my total a whopping $30 to their $8 for the same amount of food. (Area of circle = 3.14 x radius squared–I did the math.) It’s a racket–blatant price-gouging. They know we have to eat it, so they think they’ve got us over a barrel & can charge these exhorbitant prices. It’s outrageous! Like many, I too feel the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) needs to step in & make it illegal & discriminatory to upcharge anyone who NEEDS to eat gluten-free. Like you said, it’s not a choice. The food never tastes as satisfying anyway, and it’s a giant pain-in-the-arse to have to scrutinize every last morsel that crosses our lips. We’ve had to give up enough most people take for granted, and constantly have to be on red-alert so as not to get violently & incapacitatingly ill. Enough of restaurants, grocers, etc. taking advantage of our misfortune for their financial gain. What next, charging for booster seats for kids who are too little to sit in a regular adult chair? I mean those booster seats aren’t free for the restaurants to buy. The rationale could be made that those who have small children should just eat at home if they don’t like the extra charge, right? Utterly ridiculous. And hey, while they’re at it, why not make people pay more for decaf coffee? Must cost extra to process the caffeine out of the beans . . . make those who want to sleep at night or have a heart condition pay! Makes about as much sense as raping & pillaging those allergic to gluten.

  2. jjjknight

    Amen to that! I have 4 kids (3 of whom are ravenous, growing boys) who are gluten-free. The thought of having to pay not just $1.50 but $6 extra for my kids to have sandwiches would be enough to keep me from going at all. It’s expensive and difficult enough to be gf without incurring a surcharge.

  3. My husband and I have eaten there several times since I have been gluten free. I know it seems like a lot to add the $1.50 but every month they have a coupon in either the Money Magazine or Mint Magazine buy one entree get one free if you purchase two drinks. That at least helps if you go with someone else.

  4. AG

    While the cashier could have held her comments or chosen her words better, the menu at European Street clearly states that there is a $1.50 charge to substitute a ciabatta roll, croissant or gluten-free roll on any of their sandwiches.

    E Street has been one of my favorite restaurants in Jacksonville for many years. When I learned that I needed to be gluten free a few months ago, I was thrilled that I could still have my warm roast beef and brie sandwich on actual bread (as opposed to having warm beef and brie on, say, a bed of lettuce).

    It costs the restaurant more money to provide the gluten free rolls and they are running a business. I don’t mind paying a premium for the convenience of being able to go out to lunch and have a sandwich that is safe for me.

    I travel at least two weeks per month for my job, which means I eat in restaurants A LOT. Although it is slowly getting better, I spend a lot of time researching restaurants that either have a gluten free menu or are willing to accommodate my dietary restrictions. I try to focus on locally owned and operated restaurants whenever possible because they seem to be more accommodating and have a more hands-on approach so that I can speak directly to an owner or chef about my needs. They are usually more than happy to accommodate my various intolerances. They don’t HAVE to provide gluten free bread or rolls or take steps to provide a gluten free area to prepare those foods.

    If I was a restaurant owner and saw people blast me for being a “rip off” or (as I saw one Yelp reviewer do at another restaurant) complain that they don’t have the gluten free soy sauce (Tamari) or that their food was bland because the kitchen erred on the side of safety for them I would be less inclined to be so accommodating next time.

  5. Thank you AG. I completely understand that it costs more to provide gluten-free foods. And I love to support local restaurants, in fact before diagnosed I was anti-chain restaurant. We are lucky in Jacksonville that we have so many great local restaurants. I felt taken advantage of. I loved my meal, don’t get me wrong but $20 is just crazy. Maybe having rip off in the title is a little harsh. But I can buy a loaf of gluten-free bread for $4. Paying $1.50 for 2 slices of bread is crazy to me! I just want to be able to eat like a normal person. I didn’t ask to have Celiac Disease. Why am I being penalized because I have a disease?

    • AG

      You aren’t being penalized…they charge the same amount to substitute the ciabatta or the croissant. Also, have you been to Cookie Momsters and talked to them about how they make the rolls? The items that come from their bakery are not the same as Udi’s or other national gluten-free brands you buy at the store. They make their own “flour” blend All of their items are made by two women in their little shop on Hendricks Ave. I’m sure you can’t buy a loaf of their bread for $4. So by getting the gluten-free roll at European Street you are actually supporting TWO local businesses.

      If you read Yelp as much as I do, you know that there are a TON of people who are like “I try to avoid gluten during the week…” or “I usually don’t eat gluten but I decided to ‘take one for the team’ and try the bread” They are the bigger problem, in my opinion. I do not have celiac disease, but I do have an autoimmune condition that requires me to be gluten free for the rest of my life. If I wasn’t a medical professional and/or an educated sufferer myself, it would be difficult for me to take celiacs and other truly gluten intolerant people seriously, ya know? I think the REAL issue is education. At least until we can convince everyone that gluten is evil and everyone should just stop eating it. :-)

  6. Thanks AG. I agree with you. Maybe if I start bringing my doctor’s note with me to restaurants I can get the fee waived…. haha. I am a HUGE fan of Cookie Momsters!

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