When Alessandro Gerbini launched Gatherer’s Gourmet Granola less then three years ago at the Delmar Farmers Market, his mission was to share a much-loved family recipe with his neighbors. Today, he’s gone well beyond that goal.
Having recently graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Product Design and Innovation program in 2010, Gerbini said he and his friends spent many late nights cramming for exams while eating his mother’s homemade granola. The snack was already popular with family members and was often given out as gifts during the holidays. Gerbini said his friends at school soon became addicted, as well.
“They’d always ask when to be expecting the next batch,” he said.
With the Gerbini family already having a stand at the market for two years selling Lebanese food, Gerbini thought it would be interesting to also introduce the granola. He started out by renting out nights in the kitchen at his part-time job at Java Jazz Cafe and working through the night.
“I wanted to let people try something they wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” he said.
Soon, the whole family was helping to come up with new flavor concepts. To expand the business, Gatherer’s Gourmet Granola partnered with All Good Bakers in Albany to share kitchen space. Gerbini said the arrangement worked out well, but to meet demand even more space was needed.
The company now has a 2,000-square-foot space leased within the Broadway Commerce Business Park in Schenectady through the help of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority.
Now with three flavors, Gatherer’s Gourmet Granola sells its products in stores across 11 states, including in grocery chains like Price Chopper and ShopRite. Gerbini said an average of 1,000 pounds of granola is made at the new facility each week, and estimates the company is growing by about 25 percent each month.
Now, to launch its newest line of healthy snacks, the company is once again turning to its loyal fan base.
The company began a Kickstarter campaign on July 9 in order to raise the funds to market three new gluten-free flavors. The online initiative will last 30 days with the hopes of raising $15,000. So far, about $2,000 has been kicked in.
“This is a way for us to continue to get support from a community we already feel so connected with,” Gerbini said.
Gluten-free options are being made available because of the large numbers of requests received by customers over the past year. They will also contain no genetically modified ingredients and no refined sugars.
“There are a lot of families and people with personal health concerns that are looking for these types of products, and we them to feel like their a part of what we’re trying to do, too,” Gerbini said.
Those who donate more than $45 to the campaign will get to try the new flavors in advance. They will have hints of pistachio, dark chocolate, cranberry, walnuts, pecans, ginger and orange blossom. Backers will also be given Gatherer’s Granola “swag,” like T-shirts, hats, buttons and bags of current granola flavors.
Gerbini said the goal is $15,000, but if more can be raised, the funds will be used to move the date of the company’s planned expansion from September to earlier this summer.
“We want people to know we’re in this for the long haul,” said Gerbini. “This is a family-based company and we’re not going anywhere, but we want our customers to feel they’re involved in this family, too.”
To learn more or donate, visit www.gatherersgranola.com.