Do you, GFree Genius, take Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro to be your favorite gluten-free bakery in Alabama? Do you promise to eat here every time you travel to Huntsville or Birmingham, AL as long as you both shall live?
I do. Gluten-free biscuits, y’all! You’d say “I do” too!
While I was enjoying my lunch during my visit in July, I met Ellen and Chase Boyles of Nashville, TN who had literally just said “I do” at their wedding that afternoon. The first stop as husband and wife? Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro! Ellen cannot eat gluten, dairy or fish, so she searched online to find a safe place to eat during their honeymoon. That search led her to the quaint, dedicated gluten-free eatery that offers breakfast, lunch, amazing cupcakes and a grab & go freezer with a variety of baked goods and paleo meals. Oh, and flourless chocolate cake—my kids wouldn’t forgive me if I left that out!
Dr. Ashley and Taylor Ramirez, owners of Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro, started their business and built their customer base by selling gluten-free goodies at local farmers markets. Just a few months later, they opened a storefront bakery in Huntsville, AL and in just two years, they expanded to include the bistro which now offers breakfast, lunch, paleo-go meals and catering. They will open their second location in Birmingham later this month. I need to pull out the calendar and plan a gluten-free road trip to enjoy the new brunch menu that will be featured at the Birmingham location.
I loved that I was able to maintain my paleo diet at Mason Dixon and that they could accommodate my additional food intollerances. In fact, I was even able to enjoy dessert for a change and indulged in “The Stacey,” a chocolate and vanilla marbled paleo cupcake with decadent chocolate icing which was divine. “The Stacey” came highly recommended from nine-year-old Paulo, a Mason Dixon regular who was seated at a nearby table on the back porch. That kid knows his cupcakes and his current favorite is “The Stacey.” Another guest told my husband that a visit isn’t complete without the Fat Elvis cupcake. My dietary restrictions wouldn’t allow me to order that, but my husband enjoyed every bite of the rich brownie cupcake stuffed with a gluten free “Oreo” and peanut butter, topped with a whipped peanut butter frosting. He said it was worth every delicious calorie. We ordered cupcakes to take home to our kids who enjoyed them very much. My non-gluten free daughter was upset that I didn’t buy more. She is on board to make a road trip to Huntsville (or Birmingham) to restock.
While I wasn’t able to meet Taylor and Ashley on the day of my visit (they were busy serving up sweet treats at a Birmingham farmers market), they did me the honor of answering a few questions that I thought you’d be interesting in reading their answers. Check out my GFree Genius Q & A with Taylor Ramirez.
Q: How was the name of the business selected?
A: Mason Dixon is a line that signifies the convergence of the North and the South. This fusion is an underlying driver for our business. The North is best known for its progressiveness in culture and food while the South is best known for charm and traditions. We try to blend these ideals to form forward thinking foods and service that we believe is reflective of our service, menu, and diversity. Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro, where progression meets comfort.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of owning Mason Dixon?
A: The most rewarding part is knowing the impact we have on our customers’ lives. Every day we have new customers who just realized they have food sensitivities. The smiles on their faces from young children to elderly when they realize they can have anything from the restaurant without concerns of being sick. We have had mothers who cry on their first visit because their 10 year old has never eaten out or enjoyed a decorated birthday cake. The daily joy we get for being there for those under-served customers—that joy makes everything worth it.
Q: What is the most challenging part of owning Mason Dixon?
A: The most challenging is definitely the management of all of the constantly evolving parts of owning a restaurant and bakery. Most restaurants aren’t true scratch bakeries and vice versa. We bake hundreds of items from scratch with our own proprietary flour blends and constantly maintaining quality with those items can be challenging. On the other side, we have the restaurant and catering business which functions off the bakery, using only house-made baked goods. Everything we sell we make in-house to ensure quality and ingredient control. Managing so many different people with varying backgrounds can make the business challenging, as well. Any time you have a tangible product you have to keep a tight control from production to deliver to the customer, because customers are very responsive to food.
Q: What percentage of Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro's client base is NOT gluten free (they eat there because the love the food, not necessarily because they have to eat gluten free)?
A: Actually, the majority of our customer base are not celiac. They love our food because they enjoy the quality of our products. They love that we purchase grass fed/finished beef and pastured pork and chicken. We consistently source local meats and produce. They trust our belief in knowing exactly what you are putting into your body. Food is a fuel, and you are only as good as the fuel you consume.
Q: What would you like GFree Genius readers to know about your new location in Birmingham?
A: Our new location will be offering Sunday Brunch! This location is our first expansion store, with more to come. The hours will be earlier with a greater focus on breakfast and coffee.
Q: What else would you like GFree Genius readers to know about Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro?
A: We have been named one of the top gluten free bakeries in the U.S. We also have an online ordering site and we ship across the country. We only use ingredients that you can hunt and grow for everything we make. We are also much more than gluten free. We also have a large vegan, paleo and dairy-free menu in both the bakery and the bistro. We believe in providing for all those with dietary restrictions.
By the power vested in GFree Genius, I now pronounce that Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro offers amazing celiac-safe and allergy-friendly meals, baked goods, special occasion cakes, or paleo/vegan options, so just say 'I do' to Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro if you'll be anywhere near the Huntsville or Birmingham areas. For more information, visit www.masondixonbakery.com.