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CarbLess Craze Café Feeds Those with Diet Restrictions

BOARDMAN, Ohio – A couple of years ago, Ammie Perez recalls feeling unhealthy and sick from being overweight. To curb her sickness, she began participating in the Atkins diet.

“I started eating no carbs. I cut all sugar and soda out. I started drinking more water and I lost over 80 pounds,” she said. “While I was doing it I missed certain things like bread, so I figured out a way to make my own bread that didn’t have sugar and that actually boosted my weight loss.”

Perez found carbohydrate- and sugar-free recipes online, tweaking them until the food tasted good. As her family began to take notice of her weight loss, they wanted to try the food she was making.

“I was getting a lot of feedback from friends and family that loved the bread and I started making cookies after that and they loved that,” Perez said. “My husband pushed me and said, ‘I think you have a good idea here. We should open up a business and do it together.’ ”

Perez and her husband, Jose, decided to open CarbLess Craze Café at 7403 Market St. in Boardman in August. On Friday, family, friends and customers joined the Perezes to celebrate the opening with a ribbon cutting.

The café is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Among the items on the menu are coffee, breads, cookies, cinnamon rolls, waffles and pancakes, oatmeal, pizzas, salads and zoodle alfredo, which is alfredo made with zucchini noodles. All of these are made in the café daily and have low or no carbohydrates and are gluten- and sugar-free. Perez plans on expanding her menu by adding vegan and dairy-free items.

“When you go back to a basic diet, you’re talking about fruits, veggies, meats, nuts, but for this you can have your pizza, cookies, crackers and it’s all gluten-free and sugar-free,” said Venice Rosa, Perez’s sister and employee at CarbLess.

Rosa has been buying bread off of her sister ever since she started making it in her home because she has celiac disease. Since Perez’s bread doesn’t have gluten in it, “You can have all your favorite things and not feel guilty about it,” Rosa said.

After opening, Perez said she’s seen people of all ages walking into her café. Some are parents who are buying items for their children who may be on a strict gluten-free diet because of celiac disease, and others are elderly who may be diabetic and want to eat sugar-free food.

Beyond making food for anyone suffering with diet-restricting diseases, Perez said her food accommodates those on a paleo, ketogenic or Atkins diets.

Even though the food doesn’t have sugar in it, it still has a sweet taste, Perez said, because she uses erythritol as a substitute for sugar. Other ingredients commonly used are cheese and butter from grass-fed cows, almond and coconut flour and organic-whey protein.

“People seem very happy and excited that there’s a place like this,” Perez said.

One of those customers is Kelley Ring, who said she tries to pay attention to how many carbohydrates she eats, but finds it’s hard to find a place in the area that can accommodate her needs.

“There’s very few places you can go locally that have a gluten-free pizza,” she said.

In the past, Ring has tried to make her own food but finds it’s too expensive. “It’s probably $8 or $10 to buy a bag of specialty flour,” she said. “To be able to buy it here and walk in and get it when you want it is great. It’s very convenient.”

Another customer, Marsha Crespo, has visited and purchased food from the café three times since it’s opened. She said she doesn’t have any diet-restricting allergies but just enjoys the way the food tastes.

“I’m not used to all this, but it’s delicious and flavorful,” Crespo said. “I’ve had the pizza, cookies, bread and protein bars. I’ll be coming back again.”

Since Carbless Craze Café makes its food fresh daily, a limited number of the items are available. Perez suggested if you’re ordering a large quantity of food to order 24-hours in advance online, by phone or text.

“A lot of people say low-carb can’t be done long-term but we’re here to say, ‘Yes, it can be,’” she said. “Especially if you have the things you miss eating like cinnamon rolls and pizza.”

Pictured: Employees Morgann Erownlie and April Johnson; Co-owners Ammie and Jose Perez; and Venice Rosa, employee.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.