Archive for April 2011
Whether you have traditionally followed me on this blog or not, you may have noticed that it has been over a year since I have published anything. So much has happened. I’ve become quite good at brewing gluten-free beer. I have discovered fabulous new recipes and gluten-free grocery products that I look forward to sharing. I won’t bore you with personal details, but last year, my work life exploded and my career carried me to a place where I averaged fifty-some hours per week for the year. I spent many nights and weekends in the office. How I managed to maintain my gluten-free lifestyle during the past year is a discussion for another post. Recently, I have regained control of my professional life, but one thing stood out to me last year that led me on a very different path than the one I was on.
A struggle that became increasingly apparent last year while I was working so many hours, was that locating places that are friendly for gluten-free folks is still very difficult. If you are reading this, I don’t have to tell you that gluten awareness is growing and more products are flooding into the market every day. But when it comes to eating and drinking on the run, we still have very few options. There is a gluten-free restaurant directory, but it is difficult to navigate. There are maps that require you to download additional software. There are sites where piles of restaurants are uploaded via user submission and no moderation is done to provide any sort of consistency or quality.
As soon as I had the time, I started planning, coding and stockpiling information from my own personal travels around the country. What if there were a place that featured every restaurant, bar, bakery and market that catered to the gluten free community? What if that place featured sortable content, mapping and a description of what to expect at each location? Finally, I wanted to know how helpful that site would be if it was moderated by one person who investigated each and every gluten-free location to ensure accuracy of information.
What started out as a way for me to map my personal gluten-free travels quickly became a passion for sharing knowledge with others who also find it difficult to locate gluten-free accommodations in their neck of the woods. Now, I am happy to present Gloodies. Gloodies.com was born out of personal necessity, but has grown into a robust search engine and mapping tool for people who live the gluten-free life.
My favorite part of Gloodies.com is the way you search for information. Enter a city or zip code and away you go. If you’re planning a trip, you can enter the location you’ll be going before you ever leave. I’ve been using the site as a way to prepare an itinerary before I head out. There is an area where users are encouraged to upload any gluten-free locations that they are aware of that haven’t yet been uploaded to the site. I moderate all submissions to make sure the wrong sorts of sites aren’t being uploaded.
So, what are the right locations? Gloodies.com features only restaurants that offer either gluten-free menus or offer individual gluten-free items such as pizza. I only upload bakeries that offer daily gluten-free options. I only upload bars that feature gluten-free beer. Finally, the only markets that get added are markets which have made a concerted effort to make life easier for us in living on a gluten-free diet.
There are many upgrades planned for Gloodies.com. First, I am looking at ways of presenting more location results per page. I’d like to make it easier to determine which sites are which on the map without having to click to see them. Finally, I plan on rolling out applications for iPhone, iPad and Android. I believe Gloodies will work even better as an application than as a web site, since GPS will make searching even easier.
I have added locations all over the country so far. Since I am from the Chicago-land area, I have uploaded way more sites there than anywhere else. My travels have recently taken me to Washington, D.C. and Houston, TX, where I was shocked at the amount of gluten free options, so those are the areas I would like to focus on next. If you have suggestions, feel free to email me or submit them on Gloodies.
I hope you find the site as useful as I have found it. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please let me know. I look forward to sharing this site with the community. I also promise not to be such a stranger on this blog…