In tough times, it’s been comfort food such as pizza and bagels that is flourishing despite the damaging effects of the pandemic. Take Bagel Boss, with 15 locations and based in Jericho, N.Y. that is set to expand in Manhattan and is launching franchising efforts.
It’s known mostly in Long Island with several stores in New York City but it’s slated to open two new locations in June or July in Manhattan: in the East Village and Lower East Side. In fact, 10 of its stores are in Long Island, with one in Queens, and four will be in Manhattan.
The pandemic has set back numerous businesses, but also creates opportunities for regional bagel shops like Bagel Boss, looking to enlarge.
Founder Adam Rosner explains that “At the beginning (of the pandemic), we got our teeth kicked in like the majority of New York City. We innovated, did a lot of shipping and now see a little spark in walking traffic.”
Andrew Hazen, a partner, says it opted to expand during a pandemic because “We believe in the future of New York City, and we felt now is the perfect time to invest in it while rents are currently tenant-friendly.”
In fact, Rosner asserts that he was able to secure two long-term leases in Manhattan with rents that were 35% to 40% below previous market levels.
He calls the Lower East Side “a dynamic area, very busy,” and says the East Village outlet is situated near several hospitals and NYU dorms, another high-trafficked area.
In fact, its three owners, including Alex Rosner, Adam’s son, are self-capitalizing the two new Bagel Bosses, without any outside funding or private equity money.
While office workers weren’t coming to the city and its catering business vanished, its Long Island stores saw a spike in revenue. “Everyone was home in Long Island. Kids weren’t going away to sleep away camp, and our Long Island stores had some of their best numbers,” Rosner says.
Ordering a bagel and coffee to go provided many customers with a sense of normalcy, which they craved.
One Yelp Bagel Boss consumer praised the way it has handled the pandemic. “They are always hygienic and clean. Orders are immaculate and are inside sealed bags with your name on it,” the customer wrote.
Rosner also said that the pandemic encouraged them to “pivot” some of their business practices. They increased shipping, introduced ecommerce, offered touchless payment, beefed up mobile app sales and tapped several third-party deliverers.
“Our online business rose by over 2000%,” Hazen says. They ship their products by Federal Express. “We were shipping 7,000 to 10,000 orders a day out of our Hewlett, Long Island store,” he adds.
And now in the midst of a disruptive health crisis, the Bagel Boss team is launching franchising efforts. Why now? Rosner says, it took months to get the proper documentation in place and that started before the pandemic hit
Rosner, who now resides in Miami, has seen a resurgence of activity post-pandemic in that city and thinks the time is ripe for bagel expansion. Hazen adds that it’ll be targeting nearby states in the tri-state area, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia.
Asked why a potential franchisee would opt for Bagel Boss, rather than established brands such as Manhattan Bagels, Big Apple Bagels or Einstein Bros. Bagels, Rosner responds, “We are bringing authentic New York bagels across the country, unlike Manhattan or Big Apple that are selling New York-style bagels.”
Hazen says Bagel Boss has been a family-run business since 1975 and Rosner says his forefathers were bialy bakers from Bialystok, Poland.
Rosner describes his ideal franchisee as someone with a food background, who understands the hours it takes to operate a bagel shop, and scoffed at someone who was interested but said he was a late riser.
The duo calls the keys to their future success as: being product-driven, maintaining standards, and offering friendly service with the right attitude.