Chuck E. Cheese’s plans to start testing gluten-free products at its six Minnesota locations.
Initially, the locations will try out gluten-free versions of a chocolate cupcake and a pizza. The test is “to gauge demand for future national availability,” said the chain's parent company, CEC Entertainment Inc., of Irving, Texas.
“We’ve received an overwhelming response from families requesting that we add gluten-free products to our menu items for their kids who love to visit us but can’t enjoy a Chuck-E classic pizza because of special diet needs,” Joe Elliot, Chuck E. Cheese’s vice president of research and development said in a statement.
“In light of growing concerns and sensitivity to this lifestyle,” Elliot added, “we listened to their feedback and wanted to provide options that better help everyone enjoy the full flavor of Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
The test products will be made with rice flour, a company spokeswoman said.
CEC said that to avoid cross contamination or accidental exposure to gluten ingredients in Chuck E. Cheese’s kitchens, the personal cheese pizza is manufactured by a gluten-free facility and sent to stores in frozen, pre-sealed packaging.
“The bake-in-bag pizza will remain sealed while cooked and delivered, and until opened and served with a personal pizza cutter at families’ tables by the adult in charge,” the company said.
The cupcakes are provided under the same procedure and “remain in pre-sealed, single-serve packaging through preparation and until opened and served at the table.”
Earlier this week, Domino’s said it would make gluten-free pizzas  available at all of its nearly 5,000 U.S. locations. The new pizza, however, is not recommended for those with celiac disease because of possible cross-contamination in restaurants, Domino’s said.
At Chuck E. Cheese’s, Elliott said, “From delivery to table, our procedures ensure that families can feel confident knowing their meal is completely within gluten-free guidelines.”
CEC said the company is evaluating the possibility of introducing gluten-free birthday parties and other special dietary products nationwide if test markets perform well.
CEC owns and franchises 555 stores in 48 states and seven other nations and territories.