Pam MacD's Gluten-Free Market

Pam MacD's Gluten-Free Market, photographed on Tuesday, March 15, 2011, will open on Magnolia Avenue in Burbank soon. The store, which will include a catering area and a tasting area, is reportedly the largest in the nation with about 6,000 sq. feet of space. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Pam MacDonald’s answer to the scarcity of gluten-free products will open its store doors in three weeks on West Magnolia Boulevard. When it opens, it will become the largest such store in the nation, representatives said.

Pam MacD’s Gluten Free Market was conceived after MacDonald was first diagnosed with Celiac disease and discovered that the world of gluten-free products was virtually nonexistent.

MacDonald aims to change that.

With floor space of approximately 6,000 square feet, the store will be the largest dedicated gluten-free store in the nation nearly three times over, said Vice President of Marketing Jeffrey Davis.

It was an easy decision to move forward with the store when the money became available, he added.

“We’ve found that everyone has a brother, cousin, aunt, uncle or friend that needs to follow a gluten-free diet,” he said.

Already the store has generated wide anticipation among people ranging from local celebrities to people living as far away as Australia, Davis said.

“We are so excited to have this new store coming into Magnolia Park,” said Gail Stewart, the city’s business district manager. “It will be a great resource for those looking for gluten-free products.”

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease without a known cure. It inhibits a person’s ability to properly absorb nutrients. Patients diagnosed with Celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet — a diet essentially free of wheat and its derivatives, barley, rye and malts — to avoid further abdominal pain or complications, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Pam MacD’s will have a community center and resources for recently diagnosed individuals and parents of children who must now buy gluten-free products.

Some research has also shown that a gluten-free diet may be beneficial for people with autistic spectrum disorders. MacDonald has reached out to Talk About Curing Autism to get the word out about the new store.

“It would be a one-stop shop for people looking for gluten-free products,” said Debora Ceizler, marketing director for the Celiac Disease Foundation. “People would not have to go to different stores for products that they like.”

The prices will be comparable to those in other stores and better in some cases, thanks to the ability to buy in bulk, Davis said.

“We really want to be the Trader Joe’s of gluten-free stores,” he said. “We want to be able to offer unique items and are working with small, local bakeries.”

The store will have a grab-and-go case for quick lunches, as well as a row of refrigerators and freezers full of pizzas, sandwiches, pastas and nutritional breads.

In addition to a bakery with desserts and even gluten-free cheesecakes, there will be daily free samples for customers.

“Variety is difficult to find and variety is key,” Ceizler said. “It’s an opportunity to try something new that you don’t have to go searching for.”

With plans to open up to two additional locations by the end of the year, store reps said they have an aggressive expansion plan in place based on the success of the Burbank location.