Fran Kruze wants to shatter the misconception of dry, bland and boring, only-for-breakfast granola.
"We’ve taken out the ‘blahhh’ and added the ‘ahhh’ to our gourmet granola," Kruze said.
"It's way too good to hide on the cereal shelf."
Kruze is the owner of Not Yer Granny's Granola, a Barrie-based business that bakes gourmet granola that is gaining popularity across Ontario.
The four chef-inspired granola blends by hand in small batches, which are free of preservatives or artificial ingredients.
- “Javanola” made with whole grain oats, espresso and dark chocolate - great snack for coffee lovers
- “Hello Orange” made with orange zest and fresh chopped rosemary
- “Maple Me Happy” made with real Ontario maple syrup and tart cherries
- “Pumpkin Pizzazz” which really does smell and taste like Thanksgiving pumpkin pie!
"All the blends were initially tested by friends and colleagues," Kruze said. "I sure get a kick out of wives who tell me their husbands never eat granola, but had a taste in the car after buying it at the store, and couldn't stop eating it all the way home."
Fran’s background is in career and student services, connecting people and their skills to new careers, giving them guidance and encouragement.
For years she worked at a desk overlooking the kitchen at Liaison College in downtown Barrie. As she watched budding chefs creating new and creative dishes, she imagined starting a business.
"I wanted to produce products in a cafe," she remembers. "Everybody kept saying what a great product the granola is, and so we changed our idea."
Her intuition led to a career change and she knew she had the skills to build her own company with husband Mark.
They started small, producing small batches of granola in the rented Liasion College kitchen on weekends and evenings.
Mariposa Market in Orillia was the first commercial customer.
Over the past three years the market has grown to include a dozen shops in Simcoe County, Toronto, Ottawa and North Bay.
They have moved to a commercial kitchen to keep up with demand and Fran says she is hoping to sell to additional retail outlets across Ontario and beyond.
"I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I love reading books on business and marketing, and biographies of people who took a small idea and built a successful team and business," Fran said.
"Our taste testers, friends, family and colleagues, encouraged us to think bigger than a local cafe, and to take our gourmet snacks nationwide."
With steady growth over the past two years and an expanded production facility, Fran says it is time to develop new flavours and add a snack line of wholesome cookies and crackers.
She's excited that national companies are interested in featuring granola in their stores.
"I wanted to re-invent granola into a gourmet, "anytime, anywhere" snack, loaded with nuts, seeds and fruits, and delicious enough for corporate and holiday gifts," she said.
As she smiles at the potential to expand across Canada, Fran also remembers her first day on the new job.
"I remember preparing for my very first face-to-face sales meeting, being nervous and not knowing what to expect," she said.
"Without any fancy presentation, sales pitch or inspired closing phrases, I showed them our packages, answered their questions, and then let them taste each flavour. I remember walking out of the meeting and sitting in my car, not sure of what actually happened."
That nerve-wracking presentation resulted in her first sale.
Fran Kruze hasn't looked back.
For more information visit notyergrannysgranola.ca