As most independent craft food businesses do, Michele’s Granola had humble beginnings. Its founder and owner, Michele Tsucalas, started baking her own granola as a hobby in her early twenties. Once she nailed down the perfectly crunchy granola recipe, Michele sold bags of granola at local farmers markets starting in 2006, attracting a loyal base of local fans.
“From the early days, I received a lot of appreciation and encouragement from our customers for what we were doing,” said Michele. “They are committed to shopping for quality products, and spending their dollars in support of small local businesses to improve our communities and the environment.”
Initially fueled by granola-loving market goers, over the years, the company has grown to reach a national customer base through strategic wholesale partnerships. Today, more than 1,300 stores carry Michele’s Granola, including large chains like Whole Foods and Wegmans; regional chains like MOM’s Organic Market and Giant Food; and local specialty stores. The company is backed by a 70-person team, which bakes more than 30,000 pounds of granola weekly.
Although 30,000 pounds of granola a week is impressive growth for a company that got its start in a home kitchen, Michele’s isn’t done growing yet. The company recently announced that it was increasing production by 50 percent to meet the demand for its granola, after experiencing explosive growth in 2019-2020. To accommodate, Michele’s is expanding its office and warehouse facilities in Timonium. Once complete, the company will have 24,000 square feet, allowing it to increase production while maintaining high levels of product quality.
As Michele’s Granola has expanded its physical space, it has turned to Merritt Properties to build and design the perfect space for the business.
“Merritt didn't just want to build us a space and lease us a space, they wanted our business to succeed,” said Michele. “From the very beginning of our relationship, Merritt said to me, 'When you're ready to grow, we'll help you grow.’”
Watch a video to meet Michele and learn about her partnership with Merritt Properties.
Despite its growth, Michele’s Granola does not cut corners, making all of its granola in small batches, from scratch. Each day, the granola is freshly baked using high quality ingredients. And each batch is mixed and quality checked by real people. This, Michele acknowledges, may not be the simplest way, but is the best way, and creates a product her customers appreciate and find irresistible.
“My team—we are real people making real food, and we do it the right way, which isn’t always the easy way,” Michele said. “Working for a small batch business requires a different kind of commitment. The expectation is so high all around, and I’m so proud of my teammates who have seen the company through many stages of growth and change.”
And Michele’s Granola honors its success by paying it forward. The company donates one percent of all sales to support programming addressing racial and cultural inequities in the food system through its Give One for Good Food® program, with particular emphasis on BIPOC-led organizations. To date, the company has donated more than $200,000.