Gluten-free cafe opens; 7th Street market fills

• From the bread to the cakes, cookies and brownies, everything sold at Charlotte couple

Beth and Harry Donovan’s

newly opened cafe lacks the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

The Donovans, who both left their corporate jobs to start a business, used $70,000 obtained from an inheritance to open Jayla’s Gluten Free Cafe on Sept. 15 in the Park Seneca building on Mockingbird Lane.

The cafe serves gluten-free breakfast and lunch 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, offering menu items that range from panini sandwiches to muffins, salads and tortillas.

The idea for selling gluten-free foods came to Beth Donovan, 48, after she and Harry, 51, considered opening a food truck. A gluten-intolerant friend of Beth’s said she likely could not eat the food. Instead, she suggested they open a gluten-free food truck. They later opted for a brick-and-mortar cafe.

• By mid-October, the

7th Street Public Market

will be complete.

Hazelnuts Creperie, currently selling breakfast, lunch and dinner crepes in the lobby of 200 S. Tryon St., will open its second uptown location at the market this month.

That will bring the light-rail market at capacity, with 15 vendors. Vendors opening last month are Tank’s Tap, a bar selling 12 craft beers brewed in North Carolina, and Zia Pia Imports, which sells high-quality imported Italian foods. They joined some of the first small businesses to open in the 3-year-old market, including Not Just Coffee, Cloud 9 Confections, Pure Pizza and Viva Raw.

The market promotes local and regional farmers, food artisans and entrepreneurs. It faced hard times early on when the market didn’t open at a consistent time each day, with some vendors coming in late or leaving early.

Mike Restaino, a former retail executive, took over in 2013 with the goal of making 7th Street Public Market a destination. Vendors began operating on a regular schedule and improved their product displays. Many use social media to promote their businesses and special market events.

Future plans call for splitting the market into two sections so that customers can take cooking lessons in the back.

For now, Restaino is happy about reaching full capacity. “I’m excited about what it means for the market,” he said.

• Two local businesses have been named finalists in a national contest judging the best American-made products by small-business owners.

Queen of Oats in Cornelius and Muddy River Distiller in Belmont are among 17 North Carolina companies that made the list in the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made contest.

The contest focuses on handmade crafts, designs, food and style, evaluating each product based on its innovation, creativity, quality, aesthetic and local community engagement.

People can vote for their favorites up to six times a day at The finalist with the most votes will be named the Martha Stewart Audience Choice Award winner on Oct. 13.