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Open for Business

By Janice Llanes Fabry

The Granola Bar just opened at 96 Purchase Street and its owners Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily are feeling their oats. After all, this is their fifth location. They’ve tapped into a loyal clientele that gravitates towards healthy, clean eating in an eatery that’s contemporary, casual, and crisp. Offering much more than a great selection of granola flavors and bars, their menu includes salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups, eggs, and avocado entrees.

“We’ve selfishly put on the menu all the things we love to eat that we’ve always made in our own homes,” explained Noorily.

“We opened here because Rye has the true culture of a suburban/urban market,” said Mountain. “It has the energy of a small town tapped into the city.”

In sync, the two owners genuinely enjoy working shoulder to shoulder. Though Mountain runs more of the brand and product side and Noorily is on the operational end, they admit, “we like to do everything together and go our separate ways at five o’clock. It’s the perfect marriage.”

As most young mothers do, Noorily and Mountain met through their 3-year-old daughters, who sat next to one another at a children’s birthday party in 2010.

Having both made the leap from professional women to full-time moms, they felt somewhat like “fish out of water.”

“I had the idea of making granola and packaging it as gifts, but I wanted to build a business with someone,” said Mountain, whose background was in marketing in the music industry.

Formerly in finance, Noorily added, “Julie pitched it as ‘the Bergdorf of granola’ and I liked the idea of creating something. This felt like a toe in the water from being at home to doing something for myself.”

The fact that they are both self-proclaimed foodies sealed the deal. They established the first iteration of their business, O.A.T.S. Granola, and sold it to friends and family in 32-ounce mason jars. Mountain and Noorily took the next step and started selling them in their hometown Whole Foods in Westport, which led to the Whole Foods in New York City’s Tribeca. Before long, their product was sold in 90 Whole Foods, Stew Leonard’s, and Fresh Market supermarkets.

One day in New York City, the entrepreneurs came upon Dannon’s Yogurt Culture Company and were struck by its model. Fortuitously, Dannon’s CEO took them under his wing and convinced them to open up a storefront of their own. Granola Bar was born in Westport’s Playhouse Square in 2013. They’ve been on the fast track since day one, eventually opening in Greenwich, Stamford, Armonk, and Rye. All locations exude the same vibe with a signature gray palate, exposed millwork, and modern lighting.

With over 80 employees now, the days of making the granola themselves are behind them. They have a catering business, a Granola Bar food truck available for parties, and a Granola Bar app so patrons can order ahead. Those mason jars they started out with still make an appearance with coffee, almond butter, or as gift items. The daughters behind their serendipitous meeting are now 10 and call themselves, “the original granoly girls.”

What’s next? “We’re always innovating and making our stores better than the day before.”

<For more information or to book an event at the store, visit thegranolabarct.com or call 709-4229.

Open Monday-Friday: 6-5; Saturday: 8-5; Sunday: 8-4>

By Georgetta L. Morque

Last month, under a hazy August sky, music, food, and community spirit filled the parking lot at St. Peter’s Church in Port Chester. The occasion was Caritas of Port Chester’s celebratory cookout to thank its many volunteers and community partners.

Caritas has much to celebrate. Last year they moved from Don Bosco to the roomier St. Peter’s at the corner of Pearl Street and Westchester Avenue, and, under the leadership of Bill Cusano, coordinator of services, the nonprofit has expanded its services and evolved into more of a community center.

“It’s like a hub and spoke,” said Terence Linehan, Rye resident and newly appointed board president. Caritas, which was incorporated as a 501(c) 3 in 2012, planted its roots back in 1995 to provide food, clothing, counseling, and education to the needy of Port Chester.

While continuing its mission, the organization has now partnered with

local organizations, including: Score, to provide job mentoring; the Rye YMCA, which offers blood pressure screenings; The Capitol Theater, which collected food in lieu of admission at Garcia’s Sunday Shakedowns; restaurants that donate food; and the Food Bank for Westchester, which offers classes in how to prepare dishes from the Caritas food pantry.

“We want people to have the best experience they can here,” said Cusano, who is happy when he sees people move on to better things. “We’re fostering hope. It’s really a positive place and people get recharged here.”

This past summer, Caritas introduced an internship program to teach students about running a nonprofit. Rye Country Day seniors were charged with a project for the homeless, which was made possible by a Greenwich Hospital grant to provide personal hygiene products. The students came up with a plan to find the most cost-effective items, package them, and tailor them to individuals’ needs through a signup sheet so that no one had to wait on a line and feel self-conscious.

“The kids get to learn, own it, and then take it back to their schools,” said Cusano, who formerly ran a marketing company and is a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese, serving at St. John’s Wilmot in New Rochelle. He loves having local schools involved. Port Chester Middle School students have delivered food that they’ve grown, nursery school children have assembled snack bags, and others have held successful food drives.

Caritas aims to do more. “There is definitely a need in the area to provide more food,” said Linehan, noting the increase in Port Chester families this past summer. From January through mid-August, the soup kitchen served 23,567 lunches, and the food pantry, which operates Wednesdays and Saturdays offering meats and fish, as well as produce and packaged goods to provide quality meals, served 2,423 households.

Even in the new space, the kitchen operation is at capacity. Ideally, Caritas would like the pantry to be open more frequently and to be able to provide meals beyond lunch. Cusano says they are up to the challenge, with help from the community. Donations and volunteers are welcome. For information, call 305-3967 or visit www.Caritaspc.org.

Maria Vega in the Caritas kitchen with student volunteers

Bill Cusano with Stella Marroquin and Marisol Juarez at the Caritas cookout last month

The Jay Heritage Center is excited to share news of a terrific discovery made by an Eagle Scout candidate with Rye’s Pack 2, Chris Parker. Chris, a senior at Fordham Prep, led a group of a dozen volunteers in a methodical field excavation at the Jay Estate this summer. Dr. Eugene Boesch, who has undertaken archaeological investigations in the Hudson Valley and Manhattan for more than 30 years, supervised this ambitious project. Their objective? To search for supporting evidence of a small pre-existing structure of 18th century origin that appears in two separate archival drawings in the Jay Heritage Center Collection. The results are all the more remarkable given the location of their shovel tests – the National Historic Landmark home of American Founding Father John Jay on the Boston Post Road.

Over the course of three weeks of careful investigation Chris and his team from different area schools and troops, successfully unearthed numerous artifacts from both the late 1600s and 1700s. What they found – including pieces of period slipware, redware, refined earthenware, china, bottle and window glass fragments, bone, shell, clay pipe stems and stamped bowls, glazed bricks, and cut nails – gave clues to the daily habits of another era. The most intriguing discovery was what appears to be a collapsed brick chimney with metal straps: its configuration suggests a modest colonial era outbuilding associated with “The Locusts”, the Jay family’s ancestral home in Rye. Dr. Boesch believes the structure may have served as a workhouse for the farm or possibly a small servant dwelling. 

Dutch yellow bricks, long buried and preserved in the dirt like the ones found here, are typical of pre-Revolutionary War sites and help establish a timeline. This initial probe and the cultural objects uncovered will help the Jay Heritage Center better recreate the daily life of Rye’s earliest settlers, particularly the Budd and Jay families, as well as their servants, enslaved and free. Chris plans to display some of the artifacts and show visitors the dig site at JHC’s upcoming fall festival, Jay Day on Sunday, September 24 from 11-3. 

The Jay Heritage Center is grateful to Chris, his friends, and Dr. Boesch for their dedication and perseverance in this endeavor. Volunteers included Abigail Repetto, Kristina Marchand, Adele Harshbarger, and Melissa Bergin from Rye Troop 2282; John de Toro from Mamaroneck Troop 2 along with his father Jeff and sister Natalie; Fordham Prep students Christian Gjelaj, Aiden Foley, Luis Mendoza, Andrew Wetty, and Jonah Shortall.

Ongoing archaeology, conducted according to the standards of the US Department of the Interior and State Historic Preservation Office standards, is a hallmark of the Jay Heritage Center. Findings like these expand the interpretation of the site and add to the narrative of all the men and women who lived and worked there.

Chris Parker showing some of his finds.

Digging up the Jay Mansion’s backyard

By Arthur Stampleman

I have enjoyed chamber music for many years, attending concerts in private homes in Westchester and various New York City venues. But only in the past few years have I become familiar with an outstanding concert series offered close to home. I have enjoyed the series offered by The Westchester Chamber Music Society so much that I want to be sure all local music lovers are aware of it.

The Westchester Chamber Music Society is celebrating its 67th anniversary this season. Led by its president, Dr. Caroline Bauman, it has been bringing first-rate artists to Westchester, including the Tokyo, Emerson, and Brentano string quartets. “We have many longtime subscribers and newer members who enjoy the unique experience of listening to chamber music in a space similar in size to the ones in which Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven originally performed,” said Bauman.

The Society hosts five concerts each year Sunday afternoons at 4 at Congregation Emanuel-El of Westchester on the border of Rye and Harrison.

Audience members, myself included, and performers have found that the hall has excellent acoustics and is well suited for chamber music. After each performance, concertgoers are invited to meet the musicians at an informal reception at which refreshments are served.  

A first-rate program is lined up this year:

October 15: The Ariel Quartet. They have performed throughout North America, Europe and Israel. Program: Mozart, Bartok, and Brahms.

November 19:The Dover String Quartet. In 2013-14, they became the first Quartet-in-Residence of the venerated Curtis Institute of Music. 

December 10: The Walsh-Drucker-Cooper Trio. Comprised of Eugene Drucker of Emerson Quartet fame, his wife cellist Roberta Cooper, and pianist Diane Walsh.

March 18: Amerigo Trio. Features former New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow. 

April 22: The Frisson Ensemble. A nine-piece chamber ensemble featuring young classical musicians and showcasing a myriad of rarely performed masterworks. 

Season subscriptions or individual tickets are available, and students are admitted at no charge. Information is available at http://www.westchesterchambermusicsociety.com.

It takes more than age, bad knees, illness, and 60-degree water to slow the Rye YMCA’s Tribe. Twenty-eight members of this women’s triathlon training group traveled to Farmington, Conn., September 9 for the Wearsafe Women’s Triathlon. Ranging in age from 27 to 73, the women were part of a larger group of “Tribees” who trained for months for this difficult race. Seven of the participants in the event were first-time triathletes.

There were several challenges that day, noted Tribe coach Denise Cypher. After six years at the IronGirl competition in Sandy Hook, N.J., the group was facing a new racecourse in Farmington. The air was cool and the lake water even colder. Cyclists shared the road with traffic, rather than the closed course they were used to, and the run took place on hilly, rough terrain.

And then there were the personal challenges. Two of the women are going through cancer treatment. Another had recently undergone surgery. Others had troubles with their knees. Yet every Tribee showed up early and embraced the race with enthusiasm and grit.

Cypher, fellow coach Sally Braid, and swim coach Cathy Meeker are heartened by the determination of the women and enjoy seeing the relationships that develop. “There’s so much camaraderie during the training process,” Cypher remarked. “I really like that they enjoy that part and the fact that you hear women in their 70s making plans to get together with women in their 20s for open water swims, bike rides, and runs.”

In a note sent to the Y after the triathlon, Emily Greer wrote, “I never thought I would be able to do this type of event, but Denise, Sally, and Cathy helped me gain the skills I needed for the event and inspired me to pursue the challenge.”

 

Now in its seventh year, the Rye Y’s Tribe is open to women of all ages. For information about the next group, which starts in the spring, contact Diana Vita at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Celebrate grandparents and their contribution to our lives at the Westchester Children’s Museum Sunday, September 10 from 10-4. Free admission for grandparents!

On September 23, head to the WCM Book Nook for a kindness-themed book reading and discussion followed by an art educator-led good deed project.