Crack O’ Dawn Bakery & Bistro: Zero Gluten, Maximum Flavor

On a sunny Saturday morning, there’s a hungry hiker, road tripping visitors from Indiana, and a local Waynesboro regular enjoying breakfast at Crack O’ Dawn Bakery and Bistro. The French toast is buttery and light. The meat lover’s wrap is flavorful and filling. The blueberry cheesecake pancakes are hitting the spot. There’s something for everyone on the breakfast, lunch, or specialty menus at Crack O’ Dawn, but there’s one thing you won’t find – gluten. Crack O’ Dawn is a gluten-free bakery and bistro providing a safe and delicious destination for those with gluten allergies while delighting customers without gluten allergies who come back again and again to enjoy the tasty offerings. 

Find your favorites like sausage and gravy at Crack O’ Dawn!

Crack O’ Dawn was created by Elizabeth Easter, who was inspired by her nephew, who suffered from gluten allergies. Many people don’t think twice about enjoying a muffin or a piece of cake on their birthday, but for Elizabeth’s nephew, those treats were either off-limits or indulgences when they could be found in the gluten-free variety. Elizabeth, who has been baking since she was young, knew she could fill this gap for people with gluten allergies without sacrificing flavor. In fact, visitors to Crack O’ Dawn wouldn’t realize it’s a dedicated gluten-free eatery unless they were clued in ahead of time. Unlike other restaurants that offer gluten-free options, Crack O’ Dawn is 100% gluten-free, making it a safe oasis for people with gluten allergies and even Celiac disease. People seeking a worry-free and gluten-free restaurant regularly drive from hours, even states away, to enjoy what’s cooking at Crack O’ Dawn. 

Customers from far and wide come to enjoy the Crack O’ Dawn.

“I had a home based business called No Wheat Sweets for about two years, and it was outgrowing my home. I’ve always wanted to do more for the community, because it’s something that needs to be done. One of the things that breaks my heart is when a kid with gluten allergies  is at a birthday party, and can’t eat the food. So it stemmed from that. Food allergies shouldn’t stop people from enjoying the things that everybody else can enjoy,” Easter explains. 

Her entrepreneurial spirit, however, developed long before No Wheat Sweets and Crack O’ Dawn. “I grew up with two Southern grannies, so there were always multiple desserts available. I love to bake, and so food’s my love language. My first entrepreneurial venture was in eighth or ninth grade. I sold cookie cakes. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. I love to bake, and I love the science of baking. I love being able to do that full-time now,” she shares.

As a long-time entrepreneur, Easter has two pieces of advice for others who are thinking of taking the leap into business ownership – don’t let perfect get in the way of good, and be persistent. She sums it up as, “Get it done, and it’ll be what it is. Don’t take no for an answer; ask as many people as you need to until you find the answers you need.” She also credits part of her success to being centrally located in Waynesboro. “It’s the perfect place in Virginia. It’s so centrally located. We get hikers, so many people traveling, and the locals. It’s a great location,” she explains.

Crack O’ Dawn offers both sweet and savory gluten-free options!

Easter is also busy with the Crack O’ Dawn summer expansion, including a new spot at the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market while still participating in the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market and ramping up the wholesale side of the business. She’s also preparing to offer dinner service and finalizing an outdoor space to accommodate live music. “So then, we’re from the crack of dawn ‘til dusk!” she jokes.

In talking with Easter, her passion for her work is undeniable. For people with gluten allergies, she’s exactly the champion you want in your corner. She channels her ambition, intelligence, and thoughtfulness into food but also into the mission to make the world a safer and more enjoyable place for an often overlooked group of people. Not only can those with Celiac disease or gluten allergies breathe in the smells of their favorite foods at Crack O’ Dawn, they can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the entire menu is safe and available to them. 

Whether you’re looking for a gluten-free restaurant or just a place to go for a delicious meal, we’re sure you’ll savor every bite at Crack O’ Dawn.

Check out the menus and learn more about Crack O’ Dawn at Plus, find them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and updates! For our complete interview with Elizabeth Easter, check out Ep. 23 of the Waynesboro at Work podcast on YouTube and Spotify.

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