Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily met in 2010. They had spent years in the music and finance industries, respectively. They bonded over their shared love for cooking and launched O.A.T.S. Granola. Initially, they sold their product at farmer’s markets but soon expanded to Whole Foods and stores along the East Coast. Two years later, they decided to base their operation in their hometown of Westport, CT. This allowed them to create a cafe experience called The Granola Bar.
As the business grew, TGB Hospitality Group was formed. The team now has seven restaurants, a catering business, and The Granola Bar food truck. Recently, the duo opened their latest location on the Upper West Side. We spoke to the founders and co-CEOs of The Granola Bar to learn more about their journey.
Could you tell us about the concept for The Granola Bar?
Dana Noorily: The Granola Bar is a restaurant, café, and grab-and-go destination, welcoming guests to dine, drink, and enjoy the space (across seven locations!) as a home-away-from-home steeped in community and rooted in friendship and connection. When Dana and I first met at a children’s birthday party in 2010, we bonded over a shared love of food and a desire to find a spot where we could find wholesome yet delicious food, which is how we got started. To this day, The Granola Bar focuses on providing beautiful, elevated comfort food options for every guest, from kids to adults, catering to them from day to night. In 2022, we introduced alcohol to the mix, and now four locations offer beer, wine, and cocktails from day to night. This addition has really solidified The Granola Bar as a place to gather and celebrate with loved ones.
Your partnership started as friends. Can you talk about your journey to entrepreneurship?
Julie Mountain: Actually, we started out as business partners and became best friends. We believe that’s an interesting story to tell. We came together because of our complementary professional skill sets. Dana’s background in finance and relationship building and mine in entertainment and marketing really are the foundation of our business.
You’re opening your seventh location on the Upper West Side. Tell us about the new location.
Dana Noorily: The opening of The Granola Bar’s newest location marks a milestone for us as it expands our footprint outside the suburbs. The New York City location is designed to offer a tranquil space for customers to indulge in their favorite dishes, enjoy a drink after work, or grab a bite at the “grab and go” area of the space dedicated to those who would like to pop in quickly anytime throughout the day. As we enter this next phase of growth and expansion, Julie and I are back in the city we both called home many years ago. There’s so much excitement surrounding what is to come for The Granola Bar in the Big Apple, but there is also a comforting sense of familiarity with the people and place we love so much.
Please briefly discuss how you source your ingredients and create your menus.
Julie Mountain: Our menus are truly born out of collaboration with our internal team and the desires of our guests. We are not chef-driven. We are people-driven and try to appeal to everyone regardless of their lifestyle – there is something for everyone at the table. It’s important that all feel included.
What’s next for The Granola Bar?
Dana Noorily: We have three locations in the metro NYC area opening in the next 18 months. We’re excited to introduce not only our restaurants to this new market but also our catering and private event offerings. In our existing Fairfield and Westchester County markets, we are focused on delivering the same delicious food and hospitality that our guests have come to expect over the past 10 years.