Small Pub Sets an Example

Visited In: September 2010
Gluten Free Menu: No; item integrated with regular menu
Server Knowledge:
Server Attitude:
Variety of Gluten-Free Options:
Overall Gluten-Friendliness:
Price Range: $5-$15 per person (plus drinks; most menu items around $8)

Last September, Mike and I decided to take a two week road trip from Nova Scotia to Springfield, Massachusetts, travelling through Maine and New Hampshire (and accidentally Rhode Island) on the way. We packed a lot of our own food and did some research on popular chains before we left so that Mike wouldn’t worry and I wouldn’t starve to death.

In the middle of our trip, we were driving from North Conway, New Hampshire, to Boston, Massachusetts, through scenic back roads. I saw a sign for the Poor People’s Pub and was intrigued by the name. I realized that it was almost supper, that I was hungry, and that I wasn’t sure where we were going to see another spot to eat. Mike was hesitant about stopping as pubs are usually the worst place to find gluten-free food (because of all the battered food) but I assured him that I would find something.

So I took the next left and drove through the small town of Sanbornville until we found the pub. The parking lot was packed and as soon as we went inside we immediately felt at home. It was clearly a small town watering hole where everyone knew everyone, but we were welcomed as if we’d lived there all our lives. Our server immediately asked us what we wanted to drink – I ordered wine ($4.75), he ordered a bottle of beer ($2.75).

Before looking at the menu, Mike immediately spotted Matt’s Choice (“He knows what you like – trust us!” says the menu) on the blackboard that decorated the far wall. Today’s special was spaghetti and meatballs; specials for other days looked just as tempting.

He then asked if I had managed to find anything for myself. Indeed I had – gluten-free pizza! I asked the server about it when she came back with our drinks. She said that they used their gluten-free homemade pizza sauce with a frozen gluten-free shell. She was unsure about the ingredients but was more than happy to check with the kitchen. When she came back, she actually brought the ingredients with her! She explained that the vegetables and bacon were fine, plus they had an assortment of gluten-free pizza meats (which was what she had in her hand). She asked me to read through the ingredients of the meats to confirm that they were fine, which they were. (The package was actually marked gluten-free, which I have never seen in Canada. It is almost impossible to get good gluten-free pepperoni or salami here!)

I ordered a pepperoni and bacon pizza ($15.95) while Mike got the special of the day ($7.90). (The price for the pizza was the highest on their menu, but I’ve come to expect higher prices for gluten-free food. And, I can’t imagine that they serve a lot of gluten-free food here, so they probably need the margin to make a go of the dish.)

Our meals arrived shortly after ordering, along with our second round of drinks. We were so thoroughly enjoying people watching, reading the memorabilia on the walls, and chatting that we barely noticed the time go by. Mike was presented with the biggest plate of spaghetti I have ever seen with two meatballs the size of his fist. (He is still going on about it!) My pizza also arrived as promised and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The homemade sauce made all the difference, there was lots of real bacon, and I always appreciate being able to have pepperoni! Both of us polished off our plates and drinks, and regretted that we couldn’t stay longer.

I left the Poor People’s Pub completely amazed. Here was a small place in a small town that had taken the initiative to learn the basics about gluten-free diets and ensure that they had supplies for a gluten-free pizza tucked away in the kitchen. Sure, the meat was processed and the crust was frozen, but it was a whole lot better than a bowl of lettuce! Can I guarantee that it wasn’t contaminated in some way? No… but I didn’t get sick. And our server was so kind about the whole thing – she never made me feel like a burden or that I was asking too much. She showed honest, genuine concern and commitment to ensuring that I had something suitable to eat.

I feel that if this small pub can do something that seems so simple then many other small establishments can do the same. What do you think?

Poor People’s Pub
1 Witchtrot Road (Sanbornville, New Hampshire, USA)
603-522-8378 or 603-522-8681
Web Site: http://www.poorpeoplespub.com/

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