The Clean Plate targets allergies, health
BY SHELBY TANKERSLEY
OU News Bureau
When it opened in 2014, The Clean Plate in Shelby Township set out to serve anyone regardless of dietary needs. It is mainly a vegan-friendly restaurant, but is hospitable to people with gluten, soy and avocado allergies, as well.
The Clean Plate goes to great lengths to make sure customers don’t have to worry about cross contamination.
“We just make everything allergy friendly,” Bryan Nieradka, a chef for the restaurant, said. “For example we have organic wheat bread and gluten-free bread.”
This allergy friendliness attracts customers who have food allergies and who are health-conscious. It’s a small place, but it has earned faithful customers.
“It’s a pretty big mix, honestly,” Nieradka said. “We have people come here for allergies and for health. A lot of people that have allergies still come here so they can eat healthier.”
Owner Amber Poupore said the staff splits up cooking supplies into groups so that each allergy has its own set.
“We have separate knives for everything,” she said. “We are constantly reminding employees that they have to be careful of what they touch.”
The kitchen is a spread of designated counters and utensils. The gluten and non-gluten counters are on opposite sides of the room, with the vegetables and the designated knives in the middle.
Knives are separated by color so employees know which to use for what foods. Poupore recently added an avocado knife for people with that allergy.
“A lot of people allergic to avocados can’t have mangos either,” she said. “So we added the avocado knife to help with that.”
While the knives and counters help, Poupore said the biggest precaution is being aware of what their cooking gloves touch.
“Every time someone puts a piece of bread in the toaster, they have to change their gloves,” she said. “It’s a constant on and off of changing gloves.”
Aside from bread, she said anytime anyone touches something that could trigger an allergic reaction, gloves have to be replaced with a new pair.
“I easily go through a box and a half a day,” cook Jenne Averill said.
Even though they take precautions, Poupore has some concerns. Her biggest worry is nuts.
“I do get a little more nervous when it comes to nut allergies,” she said. “We have a lot of nuts in our facility, so I worry about that. When you make vegan food you use nuts for a cream alternative.”
Many vegans use things like nuts, chickpeas and beans to get protein. Nuts can also be used as cream alternative, so The Clean Plate uses a lot of nuts, especially in its soups.
To help combat this, she is particular about whom she hires. Employees must be responsible, aware of surroundings and careful about what they touch. Some don’t make it through training. Poupore said she must be tough to avoid cross contamination.
The staff is small and tight-knit. Poupore doesn’t hire more than she needs.
But she said the strictness helps, the restaurant’s most boast-worthy quality is its customer service.
“We’re not a recognizable brand, so when people walk through that door we have one chance to get them to come back,” she said. “We work really hard to have good service and good food. I would never give somebody something I wouldn’t eat.”
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