Real Food Bars


By Kastle Waserman

Photography Courtesy of Patter Gersuk

PATTER GERSUK saw a need in the crowded energy bar market and launched an encore career

Patter Gersuk wasn’t expectingto start a second career in her 60s. But when she began making her nut and fruit bars as snacks for her family, her son-in-law, a lacrosse player, started eating them and commented, “You should sell these. I’ve been eating energy bars since I was eight years old, and most of them taste terrible. They’re full of junk, and they don’t actually sustain me. Your bars keep me going.”

Gersuk, a Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef who already had a career that included teaching cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma and working as a staff educator at Whole Foods, admits she rolled her eyes at the thought of entering an already crowded market. But she decided to go to the stores and look at the energy bars on the shelves.

“I was surprised at how many additives are in them,” she says. “That’s not real food. I couldn’t believe it.” She realized hers were the only ones with pure food, and she may be on to something: Patterbar.

Gersuk started selling her Patterbars at Cherry Creek and Pearl Street farmers markets. The positive response to the taste and the fact that the bars contained no added sugar encouraged her to keep going. But launching a product business with no business background was no easy feat. 

She found there’s a lot involved in bringing a product to market, from finding the right manufacturer to creating the packaging. She tried out different co-packers, many of whom tried to sway her to add ingredients to make the bars easier to produce.

But Gersuk stood firm on her original recipe: pure food, nothing else. Even if it means the cost has to be high because ingredients with no added chemicals are more expensive. She also competes against bars selling for less. She leans into inspiration from her mother and grandmother’s love of food and cooking. “They entertained a lot, and there were no shortcuts. It was always beautifully done,” she recalls fondly. “I learned to love good food and that it makes people happy.”

Gersuk says she’s received a lot of help from the Denver Economic Development and Opportunity Division, the Colorado Enterprise Fund and Colorado Food Works, which support small businesses and entrepreneurs in the city.

“If anybody offers to help, I follow up,” she says. She’s determined to reach people who want real food and good taste over cheaper bars filled with junk. She’s so confident she puts her name on the bar, a childhood nickname her sister gave her, instead of using her given name, Mary Patricia.

The four flavors of Patterbars are now in specialty stores such as Natural Grocers. Gersuk says what she loves most is talking to people in demos and at farmers markets. “I tell people to look at the ingredients,” she says. “It’s just food. You can understand it. Then people are willing to pay for that.”