ON THE MENU — New store offers new world to those with gluten sensitivity

Published 12:40 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

Not long ago, someone walked into Captain Grappo’s and ordered gumbo for the first time in 12 years.

As part of the estimated six percent of the population that suffers from gluten sensitivity, it wasn’t something the man had been able to eat — until now.

And for those who must abide by a gluten-free diet, it doesn’t stop at gumbo.

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“People come in and have been so overwhelmed because they can eat everything here,” said Chad LaGrappe, who opened the Mid County store on Aug. 25. “I’ve had a woman in tears that said, ‘Oh my God, thank you for opening this.’ When you can’t have something and then you can, it’s a big deal — especially with food. You take it for granted.”

LaGrappe was diagnosed with celiac disease 20 years ago.

“I went years without eating a sandwich because at the time there wasn’t any good gluten-free bread until I started making my own,” he said.

His dietary restrictions combined with his love to cook led to a multitude of gluten-free recipes that he’s now sharing with the public.

The idea to open the location in the shopping strip next to H-E-B on FM 365 first started with tamales. LaGrappe designed a tamale with shrimp and crawfish that went over well with friends and family. That Christmas they decided to sell some by social media and word-of-mouth, and sold 200 dozen within one hour.

“I was, like, ‘Wow, they must really like them,’” LaGrappe said.

The crimp tamale is available at Captain Grappo’s, along with pork and black bean with cheese.

Additional menu items include gumbo — chicken and sausage or seafood — and shrimp etouffee, hot sauce, queso, a variety of different poboys, burgers, pizza, chicken spaghetti and macaroni and cheese. And of course they have something for all dessert lovers, from cheesecake to fudge cake.

“We had a kid a couple of weeks ago turning 3,” LaGrappe said. “This poor kid couldn’t eat anything. We were able to create a recipe and he had cupcakes for his birthday. We can’t cater to every allergy, but we try to help.”

During the holidays, Captain Grappo’s sells all the traditional foods such as dressing, green bean casserole and pies. And because the business is dedicated to being a gluten-free environment, there is no chance of cross-contamination.

“Some people think gluten-free is a fad, but it’s not,” LaGrappe said. “For people who have celiac or a gluten sensitivity, it’s a very serious thing.”

The store also offers more than just a quick lunch.

LaGrappe packages items like pork and crimp tamale balls for refrigeration so customers can stock up to meal prep.

And they ship frozen products to anywhere in the country.


Captain Grappo’s offers tamale fundraisers for any area organization. With a minimum of 50 dozen, the group generally pre-sells them for $5 a dozen, and then picks tamales up in one week for delivery.

Recently, LaGrappe said, a baseball team raised $750 with a tamale fundraiser just by posting online.

For more information, call 409-237-4200.