Gluten-free Cafe Avalaun coming to Richmond Road

As early as next month, Brian Doyle will be opening the Avalaun Café, 4640 Richmond Road, suite 200, which will set itself apart for many reasons, including being gluten-free. Doyle is the chef at the Beachland Ballroom and owner and chef for Sowfood, a caterer and CSA-style purveyor of prepared foods specializing in gluten-free options.
While Doyle, alongside pastry chef Maggie Downey, have been running Sowfood in the 1,900-square-foot space since March, Doyle didn't finalize details on Avalaun until just last month.
"It's been in the planning stages for about a year," says Doyle of the project, which he is financing privately and with a microloan from the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI).
Avalaun will feature an array of Downey's gluten-free baked items, salads, soups and sweet and savory crepes.
"Anything you can put in a sandwich, you can put in a crepe," says Doyle. Menu specifics, however, haven't been nailed down yet--except for the coffee. Crooked River Coffee Company will be providing top shelf beans for an area that's badly in need of a good cup of joe.
"We're going to be filling a void," says Doyle, noting that coffee options between Beachwood and Miles Road on Richmond Road are essentially nonexistent save for fast food chains. Initially, Avalaun will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, although Doyle hopes to expand those hours at a later date. He plans on hiring six employees, for which he is currently soliciting applicants.
The space is the former site of Café Beníce. Since it previously housed an eatery, construction is minimal and Doyle is doing much of it himself with the help of some friends. Painting, decorating and minor construction are ongoing.
The space features a large window between the dining area and the bakery, so patrons can watch the action in the kitchen. Avalaun will seat 20. Bridget Ginley, artist and host of the Sunday evening Erie Effusion on WRUW, constructed the tables for the café from reclaimed pallets. Carole Werder is creating a unique art installation with a poignant impetus.
"Avalaun was my mother's name," says Doyle. "She passed away when I was eight."
To that end, Werder's piece will be a painting of a tree with three-dimensional elements. Doyle describes the work as, in part, characterizing his mother's soul.
"She was an artist and a poet."
And she surely would be smiling upon her son's latest venture: a gluten-free eatery with a sharp eye on healthy local food in a stylish venue that's run by a sustainably minded staff.
"It's not going to be this stark shopping center vibe," says Doyle. "It's going to be very unique and eclectic. It's going to have a lot of character and personality."

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit for complete profile information.
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