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KC native’s Bert’s Bites Crunchy Snack Granola fills a niche market

Roberta Intrater (left) and her sister Barb Mendelsohn at a Filoli estate and gardens holiday event in Woodside, California, in November 2016.

As the saying goes the third time is the charm, and for former Kansas Citian Roberta Mendelsohn Intrater it’s certainly true.

The San Francisco resident began her career as a buyer at Macy’s in Kansas City, moving first to the chain’s store in New York before landing in San Francisco. Then she had three boys and became a full-time mom. She was president of parents groups, did lots of volunteer work and was on the board of trustees at her children’s school.

When her boys grew up and left home, she says she felt like she had the chance to do her “entrepreneurial thing.”

She loves baking, so about 17 years ago she began experimenting with a recipe for and updated take on granola using whole almonds, pure maple syrup, dried cranberries, whole grain oats and organic corn flakes. She has perfected it over the years and now Bert’s Bites Chunky Snack Granola has become her very successful third career.

“I love feeding people, I love seeing their reaction, I love making them happy, so (baking) made me feel good,” says Intrater. “I started plotting out the business and then my son said to me, ‘Mom, just go for it. You’re going to make a mistake or two, but it’s OK.’ When you have your own kid telling you that, it’s time to get a move on.”

All the feedback Intrater gets from customers indicates Bert’s Bites is delicious — even addictive. She is quick to point out that this is not a cereal; it’s more of a snack or a topping. Intrater puts it on cottage cheese, fruit or yogurt in the morning for breakfast.

So far, Intrater has stayed out of the retail business, focusing instead on a niche market — selling her product online for party favors, welcome bags, corporate gifts, and hostess or teacher gifts.

She also sells Bert’s Bites Chunky Snack Granola at various events, such as an auxiliary luncheon the San Francisco Symphony sponsored, a San Francisco-made event at City Hall and, of course, Bowling with Barb in her hometown because Barb Mendelsohn is her sister. Mendelsohn has mitochondrial disease and the Bowling with Barb event funds research to find a cure for the disease.

At one event, a woman took Intrater’s card and said she had a corporate event for her business in Napa, California, and wanted to put welcome bags in everybody’s rooms. She wanted them to be the European bag with the 9 oz. jar of Bert’s Bites.

“And I thought, this is great; this is exactly how I see my product,” Intrater says.

Soon, however, she will be treading lightly into retail. The San Francisco International Airport is in the process of remodeling and adding a new store featuring San Francisco-made products, which will open in July. Bert’s Bites Chunky Snack Granola has been selected to be sold in the new shop.

In this store a small, 2-ounce serving size of Bert’s Bites will be placed next to a San Francisco yogurt maker. The thought is when people buy the yogurt, they’ll buy jars of the granola topping to put on it.

“For me it’s like, oh my gosh, now I need to bar code, I need to do a lot of other things because I wasn’t in the retail part before,” she says. “But it’s exciting because the sponsor is really good and it’s great exposure.”

As in years’ past, Bert’s Bites Chunky Snack Granola will be for sale at Bowling with Barb. All profits from sales at the event, and through her website the entire weekend, will go to fight mitochondrial disease.

Now that she has the capability of personalizing the product’s jars, she put a Bowling with Barb logo on the top of the jar being sold at the event, which  will “make it more special.”

Intrater says she wants to really encourage sales for Bowling with Barb because there are so many times when people need a gift to take or they’re planning a birthday party and want little favors. She points out that Bert’s Bites has a shelf life of over a year, so people can buy in quantity. Plus, there is free shipping on orders over $50.

“The packaging is what makes this, to me, the exception. The product is fantastic; it’s very crunchy and has a lot of good texture, but it’s how it’s packaged,” she says. “My girlfriends keep a half a dozen on their pantry shelves so when they go to a birthday party or someone’s house, they can grab the gift bag with the jar and take it and have a lovely gift for $15 instead of that bottle of wine.”

The Chunky Snack Granola can be made in large quantities because Intrater bakes the recipe in the dairy kitchen of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. She has access to an eight-rack commercial convection oven. She can make it vegan and/or gluten free if requested. Eventually she says she will use different dried fruits — not just cranberries.

“This is a great snack, it’s a great gift and it’s in a marketplace where I think it’s welcomed because the snack business is growing in leaps and bounds and the online food business is growing,” she says. “I have quite a few regular customers. What I’ve learned from my years at Macy’s is that I have the product and it is what it is, and it’s delicious.”

Bert’s Bites comes in four sizes: VIP 8 -ounce bag $10, 9-ounce jar with gift bag $15, 16-ounce bag, $20, and 28-ounce jar, $32. To order online go to lovebertsbites.com.

For more information about Bowling with Barb, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..