#nimatested Restaurant: How Blu Star Grill Tests for Gluten with Nima
Since the Nima Gluten Sensor began shipping in January 2017, our community has grown into a wonderful network of supportive folks sharing their #nimatested results from both restaurants and packaged foods. Our community members’ willingness to share their test results and have candid conversations with restaurant owners have resulted in more and more restaurants becoming aware of Nima. In fact, some restaurants have even started ordering their own Nima sensors so they can test their own kitchens and dishes. One such restaurant is Blu Star Grill in North Carolina. We caught up with the restaurant to learn how they put Nima to use in their kitchen.
Tell us a little about your restaurant
All of our food is made fresh when ordered, using only the finest, natural ingredients. We offer a wide selection of burgers, including 100% Black Angus, Bison, Black Bean, and Turkey. In addition we have specialty sandwiches, including Chicken, Salmon and Mahi-Mahi, as well as a variety of fresh salads and sides.
Nima smile + Wild Alaskan Salmon dish
How do you accomodate gluten-free (or other free-from) customers?
We offer Gluten-free Toast, Buns, Pasta & Banana Nut Muffins. We indicate which items are naturally gluten-free on our menu by including “GF.” We offer gluten-free items in every section of our menu.
We have made sure that the kitchen is separated so there is no chance of cross contamination. The way we do that is by having a dedicated gluten-free toaster, and dedicated gluten-free fryers so we can cook the Fries & Sweet Potato Fries and feel confident they are always gluten-free. We also have dedicated cutting boards, knives, and spoons for folks with allergies.
Nima smile + French Fries
How did you hear about Nima?
A customer came in and used one back in February, as soon as we found out what he was testing we knew we needed to find out more so we reached out to Nima.
How do you see Nima fitting in at your restaurant?
Nima is great for our Restaurant because we offer so many gluten-free options and want to make sure we are doing it the best way possible.
How have you used Nima at your restaurant? What situations are you using Nima to test for?
We tested all of our GF options just to double check they were gluten-free. We tested numerous raw ingredients, sauces (homemade and packaged) and the finished products.
Nima smile + Hunt’s Ketchup
Have you had any surprising results based on your Nima testing?
We tested our Dried Cranberries, it came back with a ‘Gluten Found’ result even though the bag read Gluten Free. We got in contact with the company and explained to them what we were doing and they said it was gluten-free but sent us new bags anyway. We tested again and the results came back with a smile.
Have you made any changes to your processes or ingredients since your Nima testing?
Since all results apart from cranberries came back gluten-free, we have not made any changes.
How do your wait/serving staff feel about having a Nima onsite?
They enjoyed watching us test things and learn more about Nima itself and Gluten in general. They were surprised at how many things could contain gluten that they had no idea about. Nima was a useful tool to facilitate a conversation with the staff.
Have you discussed Nima with your customers? Tell us about those conversations.
Yes, numerous times! A lot of people have not heard of it yet, so with us telling them about and explaining how we have tested everything in our kitchen they get so excited. They feel even more comfortable eating here and know that we are serious when we say we are a great Gluten Free Restaurant. They are also willing to try more options on the menu outside of what they are use to eating because they know they can trust us.
Nima smile + Shrimp & Grits dish
What is the most frequent question that customers ask after you tell them about Nima?
Mostly wanting to know what it is & how it works.
Are you doing more advertising or promotion around your gluten-free items since acquiring a Nima?
Everything we tested we posted on our Facebook page and explained how we used Nima to test it.
Have you seen an increase in gluten-free patronage since testing with Nima?
Yes and no. We have a ton of guests that come in and have for years because of all the options we have. We have more guests coming back more frequently now. We also have people sharing the news with their friends and bringing in more people.
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A special thank you to Blu Star Grill for chatting with us!
Do you know of any other restaurants using Nima in their kitchen? Let us know in the comments!