Fargo - A customer tried the doors to Mehl’s Gluten-Free Bakery on Wednesday, hours before owners Mark and Matthew Mehl were ready to open.
People who suffer from celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten have been anxiously waiting for the bakery to open since Just Grains closed its doors in August. Mehl’s Flour Co. sold its gluten-free baked goods at the Moorhead store.
“The minute they decided to close their doors, we started planning to open our own bakery because we knew people in the community really, really needed it,” said Matthew Mehl. “We wanted to fill that void.”
The Mehl family knows a thing or two about the need for gluten-free products. All five of the adult siblings, including Matthew and Mark, suffer from celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Their brother, Paul Mehl, was the first to start experimenting with gluten-free baking. He was frustrated with the cost and taste of gluten-free products available in stores. After years of trial and error, he created a gluten-free flour and an entire line of baked goods now available at the bakery.
“People who eat gluten- free or are celiac often have buyer’s remorse. … We don’t want to pay $6.99 or $7.99 for a loaf of bread in the store, only to get it home and not enjoy it. That’s why we’ve spent time perfecting all of our recipes. Everything you buy, you’re going to take home and love it. You’ll tell your friends about it and come back for more,” Matthew Mehl said.
“It’s not just about the Mehl family, it’s about the gluten-free family,” he added. “We are really adamant about letting people know we do care about them. We do understand. We have to eat this way, too. It’s easy to be passionate about this because it’s changed our lives.”
Mehl said the mission has always been to create great-tasting baked goods at a reasonable price that just happen to be gluten-free.
Even though she does not have a gluten allergy, Labor Masters owner Nancy Kelly said she was buying Mehl’s products in stores long before the bakery opened next door.
“They have got the best English muffins,” Kelly said. “They are really super light and fluffy. Oh my gosh. They are really good.”
Dr. Susan Mathison, founder of Catalyst Medical Center, is also a fan.
“I’ve tried several products from Mehl’s Bakery and they taste great. It’s nice to have such high-quality local products that I can recommend to my patients,” Mathison said. “Those who need to avoid gluten don’t need to feel deprived. The salted caramel cupcake, while not a health food, is the ultimate occasional indulgence.”
The Mehl family is excited to introduce some new gluten-free products.
Matthew Mehl said he thinks the take-and-bake pizzas, soups and salted caramel cupcakes will be home runs for the bakery.
Mark Mehl is particularly fond of the bread. He said many people complain that gluten-free bread is dense and dry and often falls apart.
“Our bread is a lot like regular bread. It doesn’t break apart, and you can actually use it for a sandwich,” he said.
The brothers are also anxious to get feedback from customers. On each customer’s receipt is an invitation for customers to suggest other products they would like to see made gluten-free.
They also plan to take special orders for things as simple as a birthday cake to large orders from caterers.
“As long as we have a one-week lead time we can pretty much come up with anything for you,” Matthew Mehl said. “We’re willing to help anybody come up with solutions for their gluten-free needs.”
What: Mehl’s Gluten-Free Bakery
Address: 1404 33rd St. S. Suite D, Fargo.
Phone: (701) 205-4174
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.