Opening a new store is never easy, especially during a worldwide pandemic, but COVID-19 didn’t stop Melissa Woodworth from opening Nolaa Granolaa in Grimsby.
At a time when as many as four businesses have shuttered on Grimsby’s main drag, Woodworth opened her ketogenic food store simply because an opportunity presented itself.
She shares an industrial kitchen where she makes her food with the former owner of Fit to Eat, which was operating out of what is now Nolaa Granolaa’s location. When the retail space came available, she jumped on it.
Nolaa Granolaa sells ketogenic, vegan, organic, gluten-free, and sugar-free products. Ketogenic foods are low in carbohydrates and sugars. Ketogenic eating has shown promising health benefits, including aiding diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Woodworth sells many items that she bakes from a commercial kitchen. She uses local certified organic farmers to create her signature granola blends. She also works with local suppliers to source the freshest and best ingredients.
Before establishing the physical location for her business, Woodworth had built an online demand for her ketogenic products through her site NolaaGranolaa.ca. She developed Nolaa Granolaa when her son Sam, who is now 18 years old, was three, and was suffering from major seizures.
“Today my son is seizure-free. I carry that with me,” Woodworth told Niagara Info. Her products were developed from a personal need to help her son reduce his seizures and reach optimal health goals.
Besides packaged foods and ingredients, Nolaa Granolaa also sells takeout meals suitable for breakfast or lunch.
Grimsby’s town council recently passed a bylaw that allows downtown merchants to extend their patios to the sidewalk on the northside of Main St. So Woodworth installed a cozy set of banquets, with climbing ivy, pillows, and shaded umbrellas, in front of her new local hotspot. Guests can sit, dine, and sip, while they take in the downtown atmosphere. A water bowl is also available for visiting dogs.
Nolaa Granolaa supports other local businesses anywhere it can. “We use people from the community, local talent,” said Woodworth.
The cafe serves pizza on Fridays that use a gluten-free crust from Suzie’s Gluten Free Kitchen around the corner. On Thursdays, the cafe makes Andrzejewski Perogies. Sandwiches are made with meat from The Dutch Shop down the block.
“When I thought about what I wanted it to be like, I wanted it to feel like a place to call home,” she said.
The store is decorated with trinkets that each tell a story. A red bookshelf on the wall reminds Woodworth of her grandfather who has passed on. He was one of her greatest fans. He encouraged her to start the business.
There’s also a set of stained glass windows that hang over the cash register. The exquisite antiques came from a shop owned by earlier generations of Woodworth’s family. And an encouraging sign on the wall that was gifted to Woodworth from a customer reads: “She believed she could so she did.”
Nolaa Granolaa products are also sold in stores in St.Catherines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Hamilton. Since the brand can now be found across the Niagara region, it makes it easier for West Niagra residents to eat healthily.