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Success of all-natural bar is music to duo's ears

Published 1:15 pm, Thursday, March 28, 2013
  • Jarret Liotta / For the Darien News
Kathy Monahan of Westport and James Bruno of Darien intend to hit the high note with their new health bar initiative - 8 to the Bar - an organic, gluten-free treat available in several stores throughout the region. Photo: Contributed
    Jarret Liotta / For the Darien News Kathy Monahan of Westport and James Bruno of Darien intend to hit the high note with their new health bar initiative - 8 to the Bar - an organic, gluten-free treat available in several stores throughout the region. Photo: Contributed

 

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Never has the positive potential for word-of-mouth advertising been so tasty, thanks to 8 to the Bar, LLC.

Less than a year after putting their flavorful dreams in bar form, James Bruno, of Darien, and Kathy Monahan, of Westport, are enjoying the fruits -- and nuts -- of their labor. The pair, who are cousins by marriage, have invested their time and attention in the creation of a healthy snack bar that's getting rave reviews.

"A couple of years ago I was hungry and bored, so I started messing around with a recipe," said Bruno, a professional drummer and the more creative half of the team, according to Monahan.

Thanks to his health-conscious wife, Donna, Bruno said, "Our house is filled with organic nuts, fruits -- that sort of thing," so it was only natural to focus attention on a healthy, gluten-free offering.

"He's a great cook," said Monahan, who brought her retail experience and marketing savvy into the mix.

After several sporadic months of trying different recipes, Bruno finally hit on one that he shared with Monahan and others at his daughter's birthday party. The response was enthusiastic, and 8 to the Bar was born.

The name is not only a musical allusion, but it remarks on the contents of the bar itself, which features eight main organic ingredients -- almonds and oats among them, as well as local honey. The bar is offered in 2.4- and 8-ounce sizes. The only other product the company offers is a bag of the smaller extra chunks of bar that didn't fit in shape, which they call "Accidentals" -- another musical reference.

Eraesto Escobar, manager of Aux Delices at 25 Old Kings Highway North in the Goodwives Shopping Center in Darien, enjoys the flavor of the bar. "They're very light and healthy," he said.

Escobar's store gave 8 to the Bar a chance, and the public has proved hungry for it. "People like it and they buy it," he said. "It's a good product."

Similarly, Lloyd Allen, owner of Double L Market in Westport, which offered the team its first help in selling the bar, as well as guidance with packaging, said, "It's a great little product. A lot of people come in with dreams and they can't even get past the idea."

Bruno and Monahan, however, were true to their word, providing the product within a month.

"It just took off," Allen said. "We give them a prominent place for display, right by the register ... It's the candy bar of the future."

Monahan, referring to Allen's kindness and that of others, said, "It's amazing how much people want to help you out."

"It's actually been such a great, positive response to the product. People love it."

It's now available in 25 different stores throughout the region, including Aux Delices in Darien and Westport, and yoga and exercise studios in the tri-state area.

"Everything's organic," Bruno said, so purchasing supplies has been an ongoing learning process.

"If anything, the quality of our nuts has only gotten better," he said.

Meanwhile, promotion and the cooking itself have become full-time endeavors, as the two are doing just about everything themselves. Recently, they conducted a tasting at Palmer's Market, 264 Heights Road, Darien.

"We do everything," Monahan said. "We cook it. We buy it. We sell it."

They work out of space they share with Collyer Catering in Westport. "We're in here three or four days a week," Bruno said.

"It's kind of nice to be able to connect your passion with doing something," Monahan said. "And we have a lot of fun when we're making it. That's the important thing."

For information, visit www.8tothebarllc.com.

Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.