Hay River likes bagels.
After launching in the second week of January, word quickly spread about Bagels ‘n’ Bites and its homegrown baked items.
Nicole Mitchell and partner Zach Biggar, who run the operation from their home on McBryan Drive, say the response has been overwhelming so far.
“I think a few people initially were interested in getting one or two just to try it out and they just liked them,” Mitchell said. “Then they just kept coming back and telling more people. One week we sold out within 45 minutes of opening our little order form on Facebook.”
Both Mitchell and Biggar have full time jobs and so have set a maximum of 150 bagels per week.
So far the effort has been a success and has been largely due to keeping a close eye on YouTube baking videos and the home’s central location, adjacent to downtown.
“We knew we were in a good location and combined with the skill and motivation to want to do something we had an inkling we’re going to be successful,” Mitchell said.
“We just didn’t know we’d be this successful.”
With multiple weeks as bakers under their belts, the process for preparation is getting much smoother, they both agree.
“The first week the kitchen was a big mess,” Mitchell said laughing, noting that stress levels were high as preparations were being made for the first orders.
“Every week since then has been progressively getting better and better and we’re just becoming more efficient.”
Biggar, who works as an engineer, said he enjoys the different type of workplace setting the bagel-making process allows as well as the opportunity to work closely with Mitchell.
“I work in an office but when you’re on your feet for eight or 10 hours and working with dough it’s very different,” he said.
A window for ordering goes live on Monday mornings with a Google form posted on the company’s Facebook page. It is basically first come first serve until the set limit is reached.
People ordering are asked to send a text when arriving for pick-up on Saturdays and the bagels are hand-delivered to their vehicle in paper and plastic bags with the staple Bagels ‘n’ Bites label attached.
With few exceptions, the operation does not have any baking tools out of the ordinary beyond a kitchen stove, a standing mixer, a food processor and a little bit of elbow grease with some hand kneading.
Mitchell and Biggar say that the significance of the business is just having something additionally unique to offer residents.
While people can buy brand-name bagels at the grocery store, Mitchell and Biggar say that there is an added taste benefit of having them made from scratch in Hay River.
“I also just think it’s something else that people in the North are not used to getting – fresh bagels in town,” Mitchell said. “It’s a big deal and kind of a niche thing when you go down south and can go into a bagel shop. I was really trying to bring that back for people to enjoy in the North.”
For now the operation has a menu of typical flavours one would associate with bagels – plain, poppy seed, whole wheat, sesame seed, everything, blueberry, cinnamon raisin, and jalapeno cheddar.
At the moment, jalapeno cheddar seems to be most popular.
“It still fluctuates from week to week though because we can only take so many orders,” Biggar said. “So every week it can be different.”