Red Bandana Bakery To Open Gluten-Free Store This Summer in Bethesda

Bakery will offer healthy items, vegan cakes, brownies


The Red Bandana Bakery on Wisconsin Avenue

Joe Zimmermann

Downtown Bethesda will get a gluten-free bakery this summer.

Red Bandana Bakery plans to serve healthy baked goods, sandwiches and salads, and its owner Jaimie Mertz expects to open the store probably around the middle of July at 8218 Wisconsin Ave., the former location of Flaxella Café.

Everything on the menu will be healthy and gluten-free, Mertz said. She wanted to prevent the possibility of contaminating food with gluten products so that people avoiding the grain protein for health or medical reasons can eat in the bakery without worry.

“There’s a lot of kids with [celiac disease] that I bake for,” Mertz said, referring to an autoimmune disorder incited by gluten, “and their parents are so excited to walk in and say ‘You can eat anything here.’ That’s not what you can say in any other place.”

Mertz said half or more of the menu will be vegan, and she also specializes in low-fat and low-sugar items. She went to culinary school at L’Acadamie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, which she said provided “great foundational knowledge,” although she finds the amount of butter and salt used in traditional French cooking is “kind of horrifying.”

She’s been selling cookies, breads, cupcakes, muffins and other baked goods at the Bethesda Central Farm Market since 2014 and plans to have a pop-up every Friday at a retail space at the Grovenor-Strathmore Metro station starting this week and going through June.

Red Bandana Bakery was initially set to open last fall, but Mertz said the opening had to be pushed back because of complications with construction in the space, including the need to remove wood framing from behind the walls and prepare an above-ground grease trap to accommodate the floor space.

The 1,000-square-foot space will seat 36, and a staff of about seven people will serve breakfast and lunch, Mertz said. The bakery will offer coffees and local teas in addition to its selection of baked goods.

Some of Mertz’s favorite menu items are a fat-free vegan chocolate cake, which is made with bananas instead of any butter or oil, and a black bean brownie, which she said surprises people because of its ingredients.

“Sometimes you have to not tell people before they eat it that it’s made of black beans and oatmeal,” she said. “But people seem to like it.”

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