Why This Vegan Energy Bar Company Ditched D.C. For Philly
Nosh Bar moved its headquarters from the nation's capital to Philadelphia in 2018 — and is here to stay.
Whether you’re active in the fitness world or are just trying to make it through the work day, your body needs energy-fueling food. To keep us going, we often grab super sugary snacks that give us short-term bursts, like chocolate-coated “protein” bars or caffeinated energy drinks. The problem: We end up crashing fast.
This was precisely the struggle of Michele Lockhart, founder of Nosh Bar. Lockhart, while living with her sister Allie in Washington, D.C., in 2017, became frustrated with the lack of sustainable snacks. “She and I are very active,” Lockhart says. “[While in D.C.] we took all these fitness classes together after work, and we often went on ski trips. We found that anytime we wanted something on-the-go and needed to keep our energy up, we couldn’t find something to accommodate our needs. We’d always feel hungry and [sluggish] after eating a bar.”
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That’s when the sisters decided to take matters into their own hands. Allie, who is a baker, created the first unofficial Nosh bar: a chocolate, brownie-like snack made of clean ingredients like dates, cashews, and cocoa. In Lockhart’s words, the new creation was a “game changer,” leaving them feeling sustained, energized, and not thinking about their next meal.
Lockhart, who was working as a civil and environmental engineer at the time, decided to put her energy into these satisfying bars. She started making them in her apartment’s kitchen, packaging them in little bags and taking them to local fitness studios. When Reformation Fitness began selling Lockhart’s bars, Lockhart decided to turn the at-home hobby into an actual food brand. “I knew I wanted the bars to be sugar-free and vegan, so that was [always] the basis,” Lockhart admits.
Over the next three weeks, Lockhart tested different flavor profiles and asked a bunch of friends taste-test the different flavors she came up with. She spread the word about her variety of vegan fruit and nut energy bars by meeting other people in the food industry and demo-ing at networking events. Three months in, Lockhart was able to move into a commercial kitchen. On June 30th, 2017, Lockhart sold the first official batch under her LLC, Nosh Bar.
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Nosh, which means “to snack” in Yiddish, blew up in D.C. When Nosh made it into the luxury fitness club Equinox, Lockhart knew her bars would gain even more attention. With Nosh Bar exploding, though, she realized she couldn’t continue working essentially two full-time jobs. In March of 2018, she decided to commit to Nosh, putting in her two weeks’ notice at the engineering company.
The career move was the push Lockhart needed to return to Philly, where she grew up. “I felt so sure about Nosh and wanted it to be a Philly brand,” Lockhart says. “Philly had the grit I wanted to represent with.”
Philly’s coffee industry was the first to welcome Nosh to the city, with Gryphon Cafe and Ultimo Coffee picking up her bars, but Lockhard found support from other local businesses as well. Bredenbeck’s Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor in Chestnut Hill let Lockhart hand-press her energy bars in their kitchen, just so Lockhart could find her footing.
She recently stopped hand pressing bars, though, thanks to landing a machine-based distribution center just two months ago. For Nosh, that means the bars can be sold anywhere. For Lockhart, that means she can return to boxing and yoga classes. “Hand pressing 720 bars in 6 hours really hurt my wrists!” she says.