A new food cart in Mashpee Commons is attracting a following of health-conscious shoppers with its gluten-free menu items, most of which are made from scratch by head chef William L. Hollinger, who co-owns the cart with Amber K. Kingston.
“The response is overwhelming,” Mr. Hollinger said. “Everybody I talk to about it either knows somebody with a gluten allergy or is on a gluten-free diet.”
Previously a chef at the Regatta in Cotuit and The Paddock Restaurant in Hyannis, Mr. Hollinger began his own gluten-free diet when he was diagnosed with celiac disease last year. He discovered that ingesting gluten was not the only problem; cooking with gluten triggered reactions, too. He and Ms. Kingston “de-glutened” their home and Ms. Kingston, who owned The Tea Shoppe in Mashpee Commons, which closed last year, left her 18-year job as a pastry chef and cake decorator. Mr. Hollinger also stopped working as a chef, but both he and Ms. Kingston felt lost without their passion.
“Since cooking is my life and it’s all I’ve ever done, I was like, ‘What am I going to do?’ ” he said, adding that he was most devastated to give up microbrew beer and pizza.
So the couple bought the more than 30-year-old cart from a friend and attached it to their Suburban, transforming their problem into a business-on-wheels. Mr. Hollinger, with the help of one employee, is responsible for the cooking, while Ms. Kingston greets customers and manages money and paperwork.
Ms. Kingston said that she, too, has noticed health benefits from foregoing gluten.
“A few symptoms I had like stomach pain and acid reflux suddenly went away when I went gluten-free for him,” she said.
She and Mr. Hollinger are grateful that the Commons welcomed them back as vendors and as of this week they have permission to set up regularly outside of The Shed Place on Falmouth Road1. When asked what menu item has received the best feedback, both owners quickly responded, “Everything.” However, one customer said that the lobster roll on a gluten-free roll was the best she had ever tasted.
In addition to lobster rolls, the “popup restaurant,” as Mr. Hollinger calls it, offers falafel, pork and garlic sausage sandwiches, grass-fed burgers, and fish tacos, all of which are served with a homemade pickle. Jarred ketchup and other canned goods are also made by Mr. Hollinger, and prep work is completed in a gluten-free section of The Paddock Restaurant’s kitchen.
The cart currently operates during farmers markets and free movie nights, as well as other special events in town, but Mr. Hollinger said that he hopes it will have a more permanent home soon.
1. Update August 29, 2014, at 2:12 PM: We learned the food cart had a permanent location.