When I heard Miss Roben's had gone out of business a few months ago I was surprised and saddened.
Jay Berger, who with her husband owned and ran the company, was genuinely concerned about the welfare of her gluten- and allergen-free customers and the safety of the food she was selling to them.
So I am happy to let you know Miss Roben's/The Allergy Grocer will soon be back in business. The company was recently bought by Glenn Molin, a chiropractor and owner of a medical imaging center in Maryland. He says the company's new website should be up and running in about two weeks. We'll let you know exactly when on Twitter, where you can find us as gfliving.
Many of Miss Roben's mixes will return and some new products under that brand name will be introduced. "We are very excited about the Miss Roben's brand. We hope to build on that," Molin says.
Prices have been recalculated and some will go up, while others will go down. "None will go up more than 10 percent and some will go down by four to five percent," Molin says. In response to customer comments that shipping costs were too high, the company will not charge any handling fees. Postage will equal the exact amount it costs to ship a product using the cheapest available method that allows an order to arrive in the time frame specified by the customer.
Miss Roben's commitment to provide specialty mixes for customers with multiple allergies will also continue. "We will still be in the forefront of that effort," Molin says. "We will still do what we can to meet specific needs." While Molin does not have celiac disease, he is extremely allergic to shellfish so understands a little about eating restrictions.
In addition to about 55 Miss Roben's mixes, including the Bette Hagman flour blend the company has the rights to produce, the Allergy Grocer website will sell about 600 products made by other companies.
If you're wondering what happened to Miss Roben's/The Allergy Grocer in the first place, Molin says the company faced significant financial burdens it could not overcome, including tight credit, decreased sales and increased costs. After 17 years, it could no longer stay in business.
While Molin says it is difficult to re-start a business that has already closed, he is confident the company can smooth out production and make the business more current and efficient.
Miss Roben's mixes will also be available in some grocery stores and on websites that sell a variety of gluten-free products. The company is looking at cutting back on sugar and fats and improving the nutritional content of its products, while aiming for better taste and texture.
With all these plans for the future, Molin also counts the value of Miss Roben's past. Berger is available as an advisor. Several long-time employees have stayed on. Most important, though, are all those consumers who relied on Miss Roben's for years.
As Molin puts it, "We hope to earn her customers back."