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San Francisco boasts many specialty-food stores, from artisan-cheese shops to high-end ice cream spots. Topher Delaney said she has added to that roster with the city's first gluten-free grocery store. The 1,200-square-foot store—dubbed the Gluten Free Reviewer Grocery—opened in June in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, in the front of a design-and-build studio. The store stocks an evolving list of more than 700 gluten-free items, including cupcakes, pastas and sauces.
"This is our grocery-store lab," said Ms. Delaney, 63 years old, a landscape architect and artist who has lived in the Bay Area for 41 years. "We're constantly calibrating."
Ms. Delaney is riding a national boom in gluten-free products that has drawn major retailers and food producers into what was once a narrow specialty market. Demand has grown along with rising awareness of celiac disease—which affects people whose immune systems react when they consume the protein found in wheat, rye and barely—and the popularity of a gluten-free diet for others who believe it has health benefits. An estimated three million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with celiac or gluten intolerance, according to the National Institutes of Health. The U.S. gluten-free food market almost tripled to $2.6 billion from 2006 to 2010, according to research company Packaged Facts.
The store now offers many items that have come as suggestions from gluten-intolerant customers, including banana bread from Leslie's Sweet Nostalgia, priced at $7.99, and ravioli from Iamori, at $11.99. "This is our chance to really understand the market," said Ms. Delaney.