August 15, 2018
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Golden Opportunity

Granola Jar plates up new tastes on the East Side
Granola Jar owner Nealie Anthony says her favorite part of owning her cafe is baking cookies.

Granola Jar owner Nealie Anthony was knee-deep in her holiday rush of gift baskets and catering orders when she received a call from the owners of Café 111.

“It was the end of November, and one of the Brinkers called to see if we were interested in the space,” says Nealie. “I’ve wanted to move to the East Side for a long time, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

So she and her husband Ryan made a trip to the East Side, looking at the space Café 111 called home to see if it could be the second location of the Granola Jar. Walking in, Nealie knew it would be perfect.

“I think a big reason they called me was because we were a very similar concept to Café 111,” she says.

The first and original location of her bakery and café — on the North Side at 1033 E. Mount Pleasant Road — began 11 years ago as a venture put together by her mother-in-law Mary Kimmel. Nealie and Ryan had just returned to the Tri-State from San Francisco where she studied at the California Culinary Academy, graduating as a pastry chef in 2005. The trio started with creating their own granola flavors and looked to serve breakfast on the North Side.

“We went through a lot of different names and Granola Jar was one everyone decided we liked the most,” says Nealie with a smile.

What started as a breakfast-centric business, however, did not take long to transform into a popular lunch café spot and bakery. Six years later, Nealie and Ryan would buy out Kimmel’s share of the restaurant. Today, Nealie is the sole owner (she jokes her husband is considered vice president) and continues to run day-to-day operations, as well as cook and bake.

“I always impress my daughter,” she says proudly. “She asks who my boss is and I tell her, ‘Honey, I am the boss.’ She thinks it is the coolest.”

At both locations, Nealie and her staff offer a variety of deli-style salads, different sandwiches and wraps, soups, and cookies. The Granola Jar’s menu springs from taking favorite dishes Nealie and her family have tried during various trips and making her own takes on them.

“We started with a smaller menu and it kept expanding to what people wanted, and we keep adding as well,” says Nealie.

Though she never pulls any dish from the menu, different salads, sandwiches, and soups find their way on to the selection at various times of the year.

“I try to get a little creative,” she says. “Every once and a while you get bored; you want to try something new.”

While the Granola Jar may have a reputation as a healthy place, Nealie hopes that does not deter East Siders from coming to the restaurant. While there are many healthier dishes, she is quick to point out there are just as many other options to choose from. Most important in all her creations are the fresh ingredients, says Nealie.

“You can get a kale salad but you can also get a cheesy, corn beef Reuben,” she says. “Just come in with an open mind.”

One of the signature dishes of the Granola Jar is the house-made balsamic chicken salad. Made with grilled chicken, cranberries, almonds, celery, and tossed in a homemade balsamic dressing, it’s a favorite among both patrons and staff.

“It pairs really well with our orange kale salad. They are absolutely amazing together,” says Nealie.

In total, the Granola Jar dishes up eight options of deli-style salads from the popular Three’s Company (which allows diners to choose a trio of the other salads on the menu) to the up-and-coming favorite Papadapolous, which was added last year.

The Papadapolous features chopped crisp romaine lettuce topped with grilled chicken, cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, and the house red wine vinaigrette on the side.

Fourteen sandwich varieties prove Nealie and her staff cater to an array of tastes. Options range from the Cid Caesar (smoked turkey with Caesar dressing and chopped romaine in a wrap) to Clubber Lane (turkey, ham, and bacon with Swiss cheese and basil mayo on white or wheat bread). Grilled cheese lovers can dive into the Neutral Party — a combination of Swiss cheese, jalapenos, bacon, and plain or chipotle mayo — while turkey sandwich fans can find a new favorite in the Jive Turkey.

“It’s our most popular, with chipotle mayo, turkey, bacon, and Swiss cheese. It’s really so good,” says Nealie.

And of course, there are the cookies.
“I’m already up to nine different kinds of cookies, so I have to pull it back and kind of leave it,” she says, adding that the cookie making still is one of her favorite aspects of the restaurant.

Catering is a big part of the Granola Jar. Nealie and her staff put together menus of main dishes with dessert options, as well as appetizers or party trays for gatherings large and small. She also creates gift baskets filled with her granola blends and cookies.

“We have a pretty expansive catering menu,” says Nealie. “Every year I come up with something new as well, especially for those who are returning customers. That’s another favorite part — I like making fancy desserts and interesting catering dishes.”

The opening of the second location may have happened at one of the busiest times of the year and occurred at a quick pace, but it has been a move Nealie has been more than happy with. From the inquiry from the Brinkers in November, plans jumped forward in the span of weeks. Café 111 officially closed its doors on Dec. 29, and Nealie was able to move in and open her location 10 days later on Jan. 8.

“I’m still just blown away by the support we get from everyone,” she says. “Having this opportunity, especially to have two locations, I never imagined in my wildest dreams.”

She also credits her staff for making the transition and opening of the Granola Jar at 111 a success.

“My staff is amazing and helped make it all possible,” says Nealie. “It’s really been a blessing.”

Though the menus at both her locations are the same, Nealie says the biggest difference she has found is in what people like. The favorites at the North Side stop are quite different than what East Siders go for.

“We’re already getting regulars here on the East Side,” she adds. “It’s been only a little over a month or two and I can’t believe it.”

It’s a trait of the Granola Jar Nealie hopes will continue to grow on the East Side, mirroring the family
-like atmosphere at her North Side location.

“It’s like ‘Cheers,’ everyone knows your name. Except we aren’t serving drinks, we’re serving good lunch,” she says. “We’ve been incredibly lucky. I still can’t believe every year it’s happening and we just keep growing.”

Location: 1033 Mount Pleasant Road and 111 S. Green River Road
Phone: 812-437-1899 and 812-401-8111
Dining Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; North Side location closed Saturday
Website: granolajar.com
Adult Beverages: No
Prices: $1.25-$8.25
Payment: All major credit cards accepted.

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