Sometimes, comfort food is as simple as a piece of bread. But, if we’re going to blow all those carbs in one sitting, it’s got to be good bread, right?
One bite of Bagel Boy NOLA’s bagels tell you they’re made with love, straight from owner Brendan Dodd’s hands and baked that morning. They’re somehow dough but light at the same time, and for someone who needs cream cheese on all bagels, I scarfed this down without missing a beat.
After getting a bachelor’s degree in business from Loyola University in 2016, Dodd was working at Humble Bagel’s Uptown location when he came up with an idea to get rid of extra inventory.
“I started taking the bagels and putting them in Tulane Classifieds, asking if anyone wanted free bagels,” Dodd said. “Mainly as a way to exercise. I just got on the bike and got out of the house, it was post-college and I was just trying to find things to do.”
By January 2017, Dodd was making his own bagels, and now Bagel Boy NOLA stocks shelves in eight coffee shops around the city including Sacred Grinds and Arrow Cafe.
One of the things that boosted his business was the Mardi Gras bagel. One of Dodd’s professors from Loyola sparked the idea, leading him to dye his plain bagels purple. green and gold.
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“I posted it on Instagram or Facebook, and Eating NOLA found it and he shared it, and it kind of took off and became its own little thing,” Dodd said. “That’s what got me to try other colors.”
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That post boosted Dodd’s following and grew his business almost instantly, which he says was one of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur.
“I tripled my business in four or five months, especially after the Mardi Gras bagel,” he said. “Because after the Mardi Gras bagel, coffee shops found out about me and they asked me if I did wholesale, and I was like ‘What’s wholesale?’ and it kind of went from there. So, when it was growing a lot, I found myself waking up earlier and earlier. That was the hardest part, just waking up at 2 a.m. everyday, because I don’t take off days, I pretty much work every single day.”
Dodd bakes 100 to 150 bagels daily, but during busier seasons, that number can reach up to 250.
“It’s kind of crazy just how small the city is because it’s gotten to the point now where I haven’t done much advertising, it’s all just word of mouth,” he said. “It’s wild how things spread in this city and so I was just surprised by the amount of people who just shared what I was doing. Now, it’s like someone may not have had my bagels, but they’ve heard of Bagel Boy, so that’s cool.”
What sets bagel Boy apart is the thing that started his business, delivery, still happens today, and Dodd still puts the pedal to the metal himself.
“I mean, now you have UberEats and Postmates, but New Orleans really does lack bagels,” he said. “Being able to deliver, for me, it’s pretty cool because then I can see who’s buying my bagels. Some people like to have a conversation. They actually have a chance to get to know me, and me them, and I can make those connections. The fact that people are willing to pay money for something I make — I only graduated three years ago, so it’s still a crazy thing to me.”
You can keep up with Bagel Boy NOLA here on his website, or on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
Cover photo via Remi Sorbet