Rendering by AIC Collaborative Inc.
Since debuting in 2017 Halelife Bakery
and its three locations have become kings of the gluten-free world. Halelife’s latest leap is into the world of sit down dining, as Halelife Bistro will open at 2460 5th Ave. S in St. Petersburg this summer.
According to owner Laura McCutcheon, her first bistro has been in the works for over two years, and will be the only gluten-free, vegan, and allergen-free eatery in Tampa Bay. Everything on the menu of this self described “foodie oasis” will be free of dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.
“Since I have Celiac Disease, there are very few places in town that I can actually sit down, have a meal, and know that I won’t get sick,” McCutcheon tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “We are all about safety for folks that have diagnosed food restrictions.”
The 3,200 square-foot space in the Warehouse Arts District will seat about 60 patrons inside and a few more on its outdoor patio, boasting a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu alongside the expected sweet treats. Although “bakery” isn’t in the title, Halelife Bistro will have a fat bakery case filled with brownies, doughnuts and cupcakes, as well as exclusive desserts like tabletop s'mores and soft serve ice cream.
This will be McCutcheon’s fourth location in Tampa Bay, but the first one that will have a savory menu alongside the beloved baked goods.
Current Halelife patrons will be excited to see its different types of breads brought to life on the bistro’s upcoming menu. The lunch and dinner menu are stacked with comforting classics like grilled cheeses, burgers, bowls, and different types of flatbreads— like its “Fungus Among Us” with white sauce, roasted mushrooms, avocado, parmesan and garlic aioli.
Its breakfast offerings will include waffles, hashes, breakfast sandwiches and avocado toast while the “shareables” portion is stacked with plates like spinach and artichoke dip, stuffed cheesy garlic bites, pretzel bites with chili con queso and cinnamon dipping sticks.
And in addition to its all-day menu, Halelife’s first bistro will also sell vegan, gluten-free and allergen free alcoholic beverages including mimosas, ciders, wine, and even gluten-free beer—an aspect that McCutcheon is particularly excited for. McCutcheon tells CL that she chose the word “bistro” for her upcoming location instead of “eatery” or “restaurant” because she wanted to convey to customers that the newest Halelife will sell alcohol.
is actually made from gluten-free items, versus other beers that are gluten-removed, and are therefore not completely safe for someone who has Celiac Disease—like McCutcheon, her son, and many of her customers.
McCutcheon, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2008, has traveled throughout the country visiting different gluten-free expositions. She’s always incorporating the latest and greatest gluten-free and vegan innovations into the Halelife menu. Taking new technology, customer feedback, and her own nostalgia into account, McCutcheon and her team are in a constant state of developing new recipes and figuring out how to replicate them on a large scale.
“We’re all about nostalgia and not compromising the quality of taste and texture,” McCutcheon says. “ My goal has always been to open a concept where people can sit down and eat the foods that they miss and never thought they would have again.”
Jackie Miller, Halelife’s head pastry chef, has been developing recipes since the bakery’s debut in 2017, but McCutcheon herself put together the bistro’s menu based on what she likes to cook and eat in her own home.
The soon-to-open bistro will also have an “On the Fly” grab-and-go case filled with pre-made foods like “egg” bites (made from mung beans), overnight oats, French toast bites, doughnuts, mini breakfast loaves and cinnamon rolls.
Developing recipes that are completely free of dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts isn’t always easy, and Halelife's cinnamon roll recipe took over a year and a half to develop. And although taste and texture are vitally important to Halelife Bakery, McCutcheon states that safety is always first and foremost on the agenda.
“I'm extremely sensitive, so anything we put on the menu is something that I can tolerate. And if I can tolerate it, anyone can,” McCutcheon tells CL. “Everything is completely vetted down to the manufacturers of the ingredients to ensure there are no allergens on the equipment, on the lines, or anywhere in the facility.”
Rendering by AIC Collaborative Inc.
And when the new St. Pete location debuts in a few months, it will replace the Halelife’s flagship location in Clearwater, and will serve as an event space and headquarters as well. By the time the Burg’s bistro opens its doors, the Clearwater Halelife location will already be closed.
When its Clearwater location first opened six years ago, it was an event center and gluten-free learning kitchen before it was a storefront and bakery. The upcoming St. Pete bistro will be an ode to Halelife’s beginnings, and continue to host different types of celebrations and educational events.
Future patrons can expect kid-friendly cupcake decorating events, cake tastings for soon-to-be brides and boozy painting parties from the new Warehouse Arts District location. The event space—which will operate separately from the bakery and bistro—will also be rentable for baby showers, birthday parties, and other types of celebrations.
All of the baking for its other locations will be done at this new St. Pete facility as well. By allocating all baking and production to one location, Halelife is ensuring the safety of all of its food.
The announcement of Halelife’s first restaurant isn’t the only good news McCutcheon and the rest of her crew has received recently. They are riding off the momentum of receiving PETA's award for the Best Vegan Dessert of 2022
for Halelife’s tiramisu trifle—a decadent dessert with layers of chocolate ganache, marshmallow fluff and pastry cream between thick slabs of vegan espresso cheesecake, vanilla sponge cake and house-made vanilla streusel.
To celebrate the prestigious award, customers can order personal sizes of Halelife’s tiramisu trifle starting Feb. 18.
When Halelife Bistro opens this summer, it will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week, and stay open a little later during the weekend so you have more time to sip on those tasty Glutenberg brews.
And while we wait for the Burg’s newest bistro and bakery to open its doors, head to the Halelife website
to check out its exclusive Valentine’s Day menu, complete with doughnut and cupcake bouquets, chocolate-covered strawberries, and heart-decorated brownies.
Keep up with the new Halelife bistro by following its Instagram at @halelifebistro
to get the latest updates on its current build out and hopefully a grand opening announcement.