New restaurant provides allergy-friendly options and promotes inclusion | Local News

Food is something we all should be able to enjoy, and having a variety of options is important in any city. At the new Carving Rock Kitchen, they ensure everybody has that opportunity.

“Eating a meal should be enjoyable,” said Carving Rock Kitchen owner Leslie Lewis. “It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed, but since I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, it wasn’t as enjoyable.”

Lewis says it’s not as enjoyable because when she goes out to eat, she worries if her meal is contaminated with gluten.

“I just wanted to create a safe space where it was 100% gluten-free for people to be able to enjoy a meal again,” Lewis said.

While there are several gluten-free options around town, Carving Rock Kitchen is unique by being Chattanooga’s first 100% gluten-free restaurant.

“Some cities are really ahead in this, you know, and some are trying to catch up,” said Shanda Hankins, Lewis’ baking partner. “I think there is so much room for improvement- here especially.”

Lewis said having a variety of options is not just about the food but also the experience of eating out.

“I had a lady call me just like in tears. She was so grateful that we were opening a space like this,” Lewis said.

Gluten-free or not- the space is designed to be inclusive toward all people…even those who can’t afford to eat.

Lewis said, “We do have a Hope Community Fridge on the side of our building. That’s another thing that is really important to us- not only food diversity but also food insecurity.”

“Food insecurity is very real, you know, all around us,” Hankins said.

Customers will have the option to purchase a meal to be placed in the community fridge, which is a free anonymous way for people to get food if they need it.

“Obviously, eating is essential- It’s something we all do. I also think that having community is essential to life,” Lewis said.

Carving Rock Kitchen’s grand opening is on September 2, 2023, from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.. The restaurant is located at 3950 Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37411.


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