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Hall Street bakery opens with dedicated gluten free kitchen

Wealthy Street Bakery owners have opened new Hall Street Bakery location that expands their regular offerings with the help of a separate gluten free kitchen, complete with its own HVAC system to avoid contamination.

Where to find Hall Street Bakery:

1200 Hall St SE

Corner of Fuller Avenue and Hall Street

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Hall Street Bakery website


Wealthy Street Bakery website

Wealthy Street Bakery Facebook page

Pastry chefs Laura Van Harten and Melissa Nettles

Pastry chefs Laura Van Harten and Melissa Nettles /Hayley Grzych

Saturday marked the grand opening of the Hall Street Bakery. Located at the corner of Hall Street and Fuller Avenue, the new bake shop and restaurant is an extension of popular Wealthy Street Bakery. This new location features Wealthy Street's classic dishes and pastries, but what makes it unique is a separate, exclusively gluten free kitchen.

The kitchen will be in full operation by the end of this week, providing gluten free goods to both the Wealthy and Hall Street locations. The gluten free kitchen will be run by pastry chef Laura Van Harten.

"We’ve been doing a lot of testing at Wealthy Street. [Van  Harten]’s been coming up with her own flour blend," says Melissa Nettles, Hall Street's executive pastry chef.

"We originally started out trying to use the mass produced gluten free all purpose mixes," says Van Harten. "We found it just wasn’t producing a nice product so we decided to make our own flour mix. I’ve been experimenting with all the different types of gluten free flours [and] different ratios, finding what is going to work the best. We're looking forward to rolling those out."

Creating a gluten free kitchen alongside a standard wheat bakery hasn't been without challenges.

"We had to get an all new HVAC system," says Nettles. Having proper ventilation is key to avoid cross contamination between the kitchens, she says. The kitchens are located on two different floors of the bakery.

"We actually do not have an oven down here so we have to carefully take stuff upstairs, covered. We have a separate oven specifically just for gluten free," says Nettles. "We’re still going to have a disclaimer that it is processed in a facility that has wheat products, unfortunately. So if someone is severely, severely allergic, they just have to be cautious."

"It's a bakery, there's flour everywhere," says Van Harten. "People are going to have to be extra careful coming in to my kitchen and not track flour everywhere." There are multiple doors separating the two kitchens. Van Harten even has designated shoes for each kitchen to avoid contaminating the gluten free kitchen.

Despite the tricky logistics of having two independently functioning kitchens, the chefs are enthusiastic.

When Nettles was hired last year, owners David and Melissa LaGrand and Barb and Jim McClurg approached her with the idea to create a gluten free kitchen. Nettles has been working in pastry arts for over 10 years and loves the challenges of baking.

"There are a lot of people that have celiac disease or just choose to do it for health reasons, so I think it’s really good for the city [to expand gluten free options]," says Nettles.

"We definitely know where [people with gluten concerns] are coming from and what the demand is," says Van Harten. Both bakers have eaten gluten free diets at some point in their lives.

"We know the frustration of not being able to have a slice of bread because you're gluten free," says Nettles. "To get a nice gluten free product is tough. We want to make sure that you don’t know it’s gluten free. Of course there's going to be a little bit of difference, just like our vegan baked goods. But we don’t want to say 'This is a vegan cupcake.' No, this is a chocolate orange cupcake and it just happens to be vegan."

"We definitely want to let people know that it's gluten free but it is still held to our very high standards of product," says Nettles.

The new gluten free products baked at Hall Street will be available at Wealthy Street Bakery as well, to accommodate guests at both locations.

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