Bexley residents with gluten intolerance will soon be able to enjoy a variety of gluten-free items at a new local bakery.

Bexley residents with gluten intolerance will soon be able to enjoy a variety of gluten-free items at a new local bakery.

Bexley resident Geri Peacock said her own frustration in hunting for tasty gluten-free baked goods led her to establish her own bakery.

Cherbourg Bakery is currently under construction at 541 S. Drexel.

Peacock recently completed her lease for the property and said she intends to be open by the first week of December. The location is a former clothing store. She decided to open the bakery in a space that never previously housed a restaurant, thus making it free of flour or nut residue.

"We already have a clean space to start from," Peacock said. "It is a lot more expensive making everything brand new, but I feel confident to say there are no traces of it."

Planning for the bakery started in June when she sought the city's approval of the project. Because the space was never used as a restaurant, it needed upgrades in ventilation, electricity and water lines, Peacock said. The lease was signed Oct. 18 and construction was expected to take four to five weeks.

She said her own medical issues drove her to open the business.

"About three years ago, I discovered I had gluten intolerance," she said.

Her doctor recommended giving up gluten because of sinus headaches and stomach problems.

"I stopped eating it and felt better immediately," Peacock said.

Giving up gluten provided a dietary challenge, she said. It was difficult to find products that didn't contain flour. She spent a year eating lots of cheese, chocolate, yogurt, coffee and fish.

"I missed a really good baked-good," Peacock said. "One of the biggest gaps in the market is fresh baked goods that are gluten-free."

Peacock tried the store-bought gluten free mixes but they were very dry and the prepackaged products had a lot of preservatives. An avid baker, Peacock started experimenting with her own baked goods.

"I did not like the gluten-free recipe books," she said. "They used a ton of ingredients to replace the gluten."

So she took the baked goods that she loved and tried to figure out how to make them taste good without the wheat, rye or barley flour. She "messed" around awhile in her kitchen lab and started making things for friends to try.

"They loved them in general," she said. "I started selling to friends."

Next, Peacock went to Nationwide Children's Hospital with samples of her baked goods for patients with gluten intolerance. She eventually started selling baked goods at the Raisin Rack and Cup 'O Joe.

"There is a lot of misunderstanding about what gluten is," she said. "There is a little bit of a stigma that it is going to taste terrible."

Bakery visitors will find traditional baked goods like brownies, lemon bars, cream puffs, molten cakes, tiramisu cookies, flourless chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake and zucchini bread. All of the baked goods are gluten and nut free.

Her baked goods are made with rice and tapioca flour while some bakers use up to five or six types of flours in their products, she said.

Her best selling baked good is the double lemon bar, with a shortbread crust and a meringue filling. She said the Raisin Rack always sells out of the lemon bars. Her favorite baked goods are the rosemary polenta cake and the cream puff.

"It really excites people," she said. "You just never see them (cream puffs)."

The most satisfying part of the new bakery, she said, is knowing people will be able to come in and have a cup of coffee with a gluten-free treat. Some of her customers have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. Others just choose to be gluten-free, Peacock said.

"It is a general health decision to not process that much gluten," Peacock said.

Bexley was a good place to open the Cherbourg bakery, because there is great walkup traffic in the community and Bexley doesn't have a bakery, Peacock said.

"I love to be in a space where the people have been fabulous to me," she said, adding she originally contemplated opening the bakery in Clintonville.

Peacock's partners include her brother Gary Schwindt and Bexley resident Chari George.

Schwindt splits his time between Los Angeles and downtown Columbus, where he recently purchased a home. An entrepreneur, he fully supports the business.

"Having lived in Los Angeles, which is a little ahead of its time, I saw the rise in gluten-free demand," he said. "I tasted some of my sister's treats and I was amazed."

George has a law degree, but realized she is more of an entrepreneur than an attorney and became a bakery partner. She graduated from Bexley High School in 1992.