Dana Noorily

The Pursuit of (Granola) Happiness

 

by Jessica Franzetti
Interviewed by Ryan Drummond

Dana Noorily, successful food entrepreneur, found her passion in granola and built two successful businesses around it. A self-described foodie, she co-founded both Oats Granola and GranolaBar, a restaurant in Westport, Connecticut. However, Dana did not always plan to be in the food business; a series of unexpected events and opportunities combined with hard work landed her where she is today.
Dana entered the University of Delaware as a criminal justice major, but soon realized her true passion lied in nutrition, food, health and wellness. She made the switch, and graduated with a major in nutrition in 1996. Upon graduation, she planned on getting her RN, applied for some internships, and had a number of interviews at hospitals. As a surprising change of pace, she found herself working on Wall Street as an equity sales trader, and stayed there for 12 years. As of 2008, now a wife and mother of three young children, she and her husband decided it was time to leave the city. They relocated to Westport, Connecticut where Dana played the role of full-time mother.

In 2010, at a child’s birthday party, Dana met future business partner Julie Levitt. The two immediately hit it off, and began having lunches together, frequently chatting about food. One day, Julie was reflecting on a recent vacation where she had a wonderful granola breakfast each day. When she returned home, she realized that there was a lack of pure and delicious granola in supermarkets. So Julie decided to make her own recipe. After getting rave reviews by her friends, she was soon getting asked to jar it up and sell it to them. Dana saw the business potential emerging, so she joined up with Julie and co-founded Oats Granola.

Dana Noorly & partner Julie Levitt
Oats Granola grew organically. They began selling in the local farmer’s market, did demos, and pitched it to Whole Foods. Next thing they knew, they were renting out industrial kitchens to make their granola. Soon their granola was being served at the Dannon Yogurt Culture restaurant in New York City. Upon seeing their success in NYC, they began to think about bringing their granola back home to Westport. In December of 2013, they opened GranolaBar, a place for granola and breakfast. Over time, GranolaBar developed into a unique restaurant that offers breakfast and lunch items for every pallet. GranolaBar’s chic website is a reflection of the eclectic yet calming atmosphere they have created in GranolaBar (complete with mini Buddhas). The restaurant is a tribute to their love of healthy and delicious food.

the GRANOLA bar
So, if you happen to be in Westport, check out the GranolaBar or even just ogle at her incredible food on their Instagram (thegranolabar). Dana’s business sense combined with her passion for food and degree in Nutrition, have lead her down an unexpected but thriving career. Everyone who has tried her granola or other menu items is surely grateful. To find out more, check out their website, thegranolabarct.com.

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