CENTER POINT, Iowa (CBS 2/FOX 28) - In this story we celebrate creativity, commitment to community and healthful eating. All three can be found at what was once an old Casey's General Store in Center Point.
One year later it's a manufacturing plant and so much more, Created in the Corridor.
Belinda O'Brien started making granola three years ago when she and her husband couldn't find what they were looking for in eastern Iowa; a brand some friends in Texas turned them onto that Rick O'Brien really loved.
Recalls Belinda,"Finally I just said to him, 'you know, I think I can make this Granola.' And he's like, 'no you can't.' I'm like, "No, I really think I can!" Belinda made her own recipe that day while Rick was at work.
"He came back, tasted the granola, and he said it was better than what he had before." Adds Rick, laughing, "I think she'd claim today that she just likes to be innovative and I think part of it was to prove me wrong."
That challenge led to the creation of "O'Brien's Own Gourmet Granola"; all natural, no preservatives, made from scratch by hand in their home kitchen. "It was one pan of granola at a time that made three bags," remembers Belinda fondly. They started selling it at craft fairs and farmer's markets and it snowballed from there. They had their first retail outlet within several months when they built a second kitchen. Rick was surprised at the popularity of the product. "Our growth year over year, from first year to second year was 163%.
With sales that strong the O'Briens bought the old Casey's for an even larger manufacturing space. And everything is still done by hand; from the baking to the packaging.
Now making thirteen different flavors, the O'Brien's granola is sold in hundreds of retail outlets in six states...and nationwide online.
"We've had orders from California to Maine, from Florida to Washington," says Belinda.
"That's my favorite breakfast meal, yeah," exclaims Sandra Nelson from Quasqueton. She and her husband Cliff buy theirs at the O'Brien's Center Point storefront. Explains Belinda, "People were saying, 'We need a coffee shop, we need an ice cream shop,' so we went ahead and put it in."
That storefront features all Iowa products. And by the way, the O'Briens are now making granola bars, too. You can learn more by visiting the News Links section of this website.