Dining With Denise Neil

Another gluten-free, dairy-free food business has opened in Wichita

Wichita has a new gluten-free, dairy-free food business in town, and like many of its kind, this one was born out of the owners’ dietary needs.

Wichita nurse Betty Jo Lawson has teamed up with her friend Cheryl Schmeidler to open Off the Wheaten Path, a new food truck that just hit the streets.

The partners were inspired by the fact that Schmeidler and her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren, determined that they were intolerant of wheat and dairy. Once they eliminated those ingredients from their diets, they almost instantly felt better, Lawson said.

The trouble was that mother and daughter really like to eat out, and finding things they could order was not easy.

Cheryl Schmeidler, right, and her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren, liked to eat out but needed to avoid gluten and dairy. They partnered with nurse friend Betty Jo Lawson to open Off the Wheaten Path, a gluten-free and dairy-free food truck. Courtesy photo

“It’s been a real challenge,” Lawson said. “It’s difficult. Finding gluten free is tough. Finding dairy free is tough. But finding gluten and dairy free is really tough.”

Lawson helped her friend develop recipes for the truck, which is set up in a brand new pull-behind trailer. It has a small menu for now but it will grow as the partners become more experienced, Lawson said.

At the moment, they’re featuring deep fried chicken planks made with a gluten-free, dairy-free batter served with a side of fries. They also serve boba tea drinks, and they’re using their boba machine — which seals drinks closed with a plastic film — to create unique “walking salads.” They put salad dressing at the bottom of a plastic boba drinking cup, layer in ingredients like cabbage, beets, garbanzo beans and black olives, then seal the cup. Customers just have to shake the salads to distribute the dressing then can eat them right out of the cup.

Off the Wheaten Path opened recently in Wichita serving gluten-free and dairy-free fare. Courtesy photo

The truck has been setting up at the U.S. Postal Service Call Center at 47th Street South and Oliver and the owners also have been trying out locations like East High School and the southeast corner of Rock and Kellogg.

They have a few coming events already scheduled, including the relocated West Side Food Truck Rally at the Sedgwick County Zoo on Sep. 15. They’re working on being added to the schedule at the Wichita State University food truck plaza and want to get involved with the monthly Food Trucks at the Fountain event, too, Lawson said.

Off the Wheaten Path is Wichita’s second gluten-free, dairy-free food truck. A year ago, Pam Bugler and her son, Simon, opened Against the Grain.

To find out where Off the Wheaten Path will be, visit the truck’s Facebook page, Off The Wheaten Path ICT.

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.