BETHLEHEM, Pa. - It's a Thursday morning. The chopper is chopping, the mixer is whirling, and the oven timer is playing taskmaster, counting down the passing minutes and seconds with an impatient tick. And that can only mean one thing inside 518 Long Street in Bethlehem: it's time to make the granola.
"For a group of people making it five trays at a time, it requires a lot of focus," said Calvin Virgilio, Chief Baking Officer at the Granola Factory. "You gotta hustle."
And hustle... they do!
The small staff is at it five days a week, churning out 800 pounds of granola a day.
It's all a little mind-blowing for the home-economics teacher and self-taught cook who started it all.
"I've always envisioned owning a little bake shop or something to that nature, but never to the extent that we've grown," explained co-owner Suzanne Virgilio.
In 1988, she and her husband Robert bought the Bethlehem Inn, a bed and breakfast. Her homemade granola was a hit with the guests.
"We decided to try our hand at selling the granola on a very small basis," said Suzanne.
Nailing down the perfect recipe was a delicious experiment in trial and error. Suzanne says she tried several concoctions before settling on a mouth-watering winner.
The company chief's baking officer can vouch for that; he is, after all, Suzanne's son.
"She is the best cook I know," said Calvin Virgilio.
In fact, the whole business is a family affair; Suzanne's husband and three sons have helped to transform the Granola Factory into a force to be reckoned with.
"We have about 43 Wegmans that we're in from Massachusetts down to Virginia," Calvin said.
It looks like this crew will be busy filling, sealing and shipping granola bags for a long time to come, right here in Bethlehem.
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