The challenges of running two bakeries, a commitment to family, and a changing business environment with increased options for gluten intolerant customers are behind Toby Matasar’s decision to close down 12th Ave’s Niche Gluten Free Cafe and Bakery.
After four years of business, the “100% dedicated” gluten free bakery will sell its final batches on Halloween. What will she miss the most? Making kids who can’t eat gluten happy.
“I will truly miss seeing their smiling faces as they realize they can eat ANYTHING in the whole store!,” Matasar said.
“I think the closing is due to a multitude of things,” Matasar tells CHS. “Definitely having two businesses is wearing me down. And my kid won’t stop growing which has always been my first priority – as he enters his teenage years I feel the need to make myself more available for family.”
She also said there is more for her clientele to enjoy and eat today.
“I think on the business end of things, more restaurants have become accommodating to those of us with severe gluten intolerance (which is a good thing, so at least I will continue to have safe places to eat something other than salad),” Matasar said. “Unfortunately, this still doesn’t help the issue for those with celiac who need a dedicated place to feel safe eating out. This is where the food service industry still lacks ‘service’ – in serving and caring for this group of people.”
Though she’ll be closing Niche, Matasar will still be baking in the neighborhood where you can find her gluten-full creations at E Olive Way’s Crumble and Flake.
Meanwhile, Nuflours now stands alone as the area’s only gluten-free bakery after opening five years ago on 15th Ave E in a longtime neighborhood bakery space.
Matasar opened Niche in the 800 block of 12th Ave across from Seattle U in September 2015. In 2017, she took over Crumble and Flake from baker Neil Robertson. CHS talked with Matasar following her Crumble and Flake addition about baking for both sides of Capitol Hill’s gluten-free divide. “I got my original recipes and took out the flour, then I’d look at what happens and decide: more or less liquid? More or less fat? As I continued it’s gotten a little easier,” Matasar told CHS at the time. “My friends who’ve been eating my pastries for years tell me they can’t tell the difference—they don’t know whether or not this is the gluten-free one.”
Now, after years of gluten-free baking, Matasar is ready to spend a little less time near the ovens. The 12th Ave space has new owners, she says, with a new bakery project coming to the area CHS will tell you more about soon. In the meantime, fans have a few more days to say goodbye to Niche.
“It’s sad to say goodbye to my ‘baby,’ but I’m pleased to be able to focus on my family and my love for French pastries!,” Matasar said. “It’s full circle for me – France is where I started my technical training and I love having the opportunity to create new and exciting pastries for my loyal customers and followers over here.”
Niche, at 808 12th Ave, is slated to close October 31st. You can find Matasar’s creations — including a “divine,” she says, black sesame Kouign Amann, at Crumble and Flake, at 1500 E Olive Way. Learn more at crumbleandflake.com.
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