Gluten-Free & The Chocolate Factory

Yes, I said chocolate.  My all-time, hands down, favorite delicacy in the world.  I have been trying to make sure to keep the kids busy this summer to stave off boredom.  As a parent (and as all parents know) boredom = trouble.  Trouble comes in many forms.  They can range from mild bickering to full-out knock-down drag out fights & wrestling matches.  We were supposed to visit The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium yesterday, but the weather did not cooperate.  I couldn’t take another rainy day cooped up inside, so off to Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory we went!  Anthony-Thomas does free tours of their candy factory!  What a bonus!  They also have an on-site candy shoppe for purchasing multiple yummy treats on your way out. 

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As we arrived, we were greeted by the amazing smell of chocolate!  I instantly knew that this would be a place that I would have to visit repeatedly.  The tour took about 20 -30 minutes, doable for kids (and adults) of all ages.  ;)  Unfortunately there was no photography permitted in the factory, so I can’t show you any candy making shots.  I did learn all kinds of interesting facts today.

  • Anthony & Thomas are 2 names combined to make one company name. 
  • Anthony is the father of Thomas.
  • The business started out as candy making, soda shop & lunch counter, but the candy was so successful, that they decided to focus solely on candy.
  • Anthony-Thomas is still very much a family run business. 
  • Thomas has a daughter that he named Candy.  (I really got a kick out of that!)
  • Employees can eat as much candy as they like while they are at work!  (Enough reason for me to apply!)
  • Anthony-Thomas also does contract work for other candy companies.  They weren’t allowed to tell us who, so I was told when I asked, however, there was a label that I could see and it is one of the larger candy companies!  I was a little surprised by this.
  • Did you know that if you freeze chocolate, you need to put it in the fridge before you take it out to room temperature?  I learn something new everyday!

After the tour we obviously hit up the candy shoppe.  First we were treated to an amazing sample of the Buckeyes there were making today.  Heaven in my mouth!!!  So smooth & creamy. 

Here is the Buckeye that I ate:

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Just kidding!  LOL!!  This Buckeye weighs in at 235 pounds and costs $3,500.00!

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Hannah, my niece & my little sister, Regan.  Jon could not be bothered for a photo. 

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The kids each had an allotted amount of money to spend on whatever treats they wanted.  It was not easy for them to make these choices, let me tell you!  LOL!  Heck, it wasn’t easy for me either, but I settled on Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries & Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries.  Also, Jon & I bought a 72% Dark Chocolate Bar to split. 

Here are some of Jon’s goodies ~ Cappuccino Truffle (note the ketchup, salt & pepper on his fingers from his fries!):

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Truly a wonderful, gluten-free experience!  Great way to spend a good 1 – 1.5 hours and keep the kids happy! :)

Afterwards we went to Cheeseburger in Paradise, which wasn’t as good of an experience. 

A Disappointing Dining Experience

Another gluten-free blogger that I read wrote about a bad experience he had at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  He titled the entry “Cheeseblunder in Paradise”.    We experienced a “Cheeseblunder in Paradise” today as well.  This happened to be the Hilliard location. 

We met some family there after touring the Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory (post re-cap to follow).  We placed our order and the place was virtually empty.  This was surprising because it was lunch hour on a weekday.  While we did let the manager know that there were 2 gluten-free orders and he did follow them through, the service was extremely slow.  Jon ordered a salad, cheeseburger & fries; I ordered the mahi mahi sandwich (sans buns and not blackened), veggies (which I told would be a medley & ended up being just broccoli) and a salad.  My mahi mahi was horribly overcooked.  I don’t know what was going on there today, but for the amount of people that were in the restaurant, there was no reason for our food to take that long and for my fish to be that overcooked.  I even had my Dad try the fish to make sure that it wasn’t just me and he completely agreed.  When we were finally checked on by the server, I let her know.  She did offer to have it re-made, but by that time we had waited plenty long enough & having the fish re-made or ordering something else was out of the question.  The manager also stopped by and they did take it off my bill, it is just frustrating.  I did eat the broccoli, salad, some of Jon’s fries and some dark chocolate, but not the meal I ordered.  There are too many restaurants out there now offering gluten-free options to continue to frequent places that can’t get it right, regardless if it is a gluten issue or another issue. 

Edited to add:

Ben, from Cheeseburger in Paradise commented below regarding this experience.  Here is my response to Ben:

Hi Ben,

 

I apologize for taking so long to respond.  I really wanted to think about my response to your comment on my blog. 

 

The specific incident that I blogged about was not a gluten faux pas, but a general failure in customer service.  One would think that at lunch hour, there would be plenty of speedy service taking place, as most people only have 1 hour for lunch.  And not only speedy service is expected, but being staffed appropriately as well.  On the day we dined at CIP, the restaurant was dead.  There really was no reason for our service to take as along as it did, unless mistakes were made in the kitchen that we were not made aware of.  Overcooked fish, a different vegeatable than was ordered, though still gluten-free, no one checking back in the expected time frame, all contributed to the less than acceptable experience.    

 

Now, there have been several other incidents when we have dined at CIP where our gluten-free food order has come out with buns on the burgers or chicken.  We used to dine at CIP at least once a week for well over a year or 2, but have since stopped doing so.  The reasons isn’t necessarily due to gluten-free issues, but you get tired of eating the same thing over & over.  The one problem that seemed to be consistent was salads that were ordered had gluten-containing wontons in them.  Dressings were on the side or salad and there would frequently be other items from the line in the dressing (wontons, which aren’t gluten-free is a huge concern).  A way to avoid that is to get all gluten-free dressings straight from the container in the walk-in.  Also, better education for the staff on gluten-free dining and how to avoid cross-contaimination since you have a gluten-free menu.  There has been such a huge increase in the number of people following this diet due to the increased diagnosis of Celiac Disease AND the number of places that offer a gluten-free menu.  To keep comptetive with those other eateries, you need to make sure that your staff is knowledgeable & consistent regarding the menus & diet. Just because a person has to follow a gluten-free diet shouldn’t mean they have to settle on less than desirable food & experiences.  This diet is not a diet that is followed by choice (like Atkins or South Beach), it is a diet that is followed out of necessity for health & wellness.    

 

 I love the concept of CIP and would love to continue to keep it on my list of places to dine, but I have to honest, the service that we had was not overly convincing to return any time soon. 

Kim

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