LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a Louisville woman had to stop working as a personal chef. So she decided to open a 100% gluten-free restaurant that's providing hope and food freedom for lots of people.
Chef Angela Pike is preparing for the next day's lunch rush.
"Our sandwich special for tomorrow is going to be the Italian beef sub," said Pike.
Tiny cloves of garlic and Italian seasoning make it just like you'd find in Chicago, but what you can't taste is that it's 100% gluten-free.
"There's no gluten in this place at all," she said.
About a year ago, the former personal chef was diagnosed with Celiac Disease- an immune disease in which people can't eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine.
"Working as a personal chef was making me sick and I couldn't get better," said Pike.
So she decided to open a restaurant that's completely gluten-free -- the Silly Axe Cafe.
"It's obviously a play on Celiac. It is a play on the disease myself and my daughter have," she said.
As far as the criticism about g-free, Pike's heard it all before.
"A lot of people have this immediate thought in their head that gluten-free means gross," Pike said.
But at her Highlands restaurant, the proof is in the taste.
"What I've found is that you can't tell the difference with any of the things we have in our restaurant," she said. "The gluten-free doesn't even matter. It's just a benefit."
The menu changes every day, and is stocked full of sandwiches, soups and sides.
"If there's only one restaurant in town that's safe to eat at, I wouldn't want to get sick of that restaurant. I'd want them to change what they have all the time, and so that's what I do."
In addition to gluten free, Silly Axe is also nut-free and lactose free. For people with Celiac or other issues with gluten or allergens, that eliminates the fear of cross contamination which is a serious threat.
"I don't really go any place else now because I just know I can come here, I wont get sick, I'll have good food," said Corbin Hannah who visits Silly Axe at least once a week. "I have Celiacs and so eating at other restaurants is really a gamble of whether I'm going to get sick or not."
It's peace of mind served a with a side of safe, delicious food and for Hannah, almost like a support group for those struggling with food intolerance.
"This is more than just a restaurant. This is like a support community because people understand what it's like to have to be very careful with your food and how it can really affect your life if you get a hold of something," said Hannah.
It's that kind of feedback that lets Pike know the long hours, sometimes 14-hour days, are worth it.
"People come in and cry because they're so overwhelmed because they haven't been able to go somewhere to eat in so long and if feels so good to feel normal," said Pike.
For those not sold, Pike says just give it a try. "The thing I try to tell people is come here because it's gluten-free, come back because it's good."
Pike has big plans for the future. She hopes to one day franchise the restaurant.
Silly Axe Cafe is located at 2216 Dundee Road.
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