TORONTO — A deli in Toronto’s west-end has customers lined up out the door to get their hands on its Montreal-style bagels.
“The demand has been beyond our expectations,” says Kettlemans Bagel founder and owner, Craig Buckley. He adds, “We would have had to multiply by four or six times what we expected.”
Buckley already has three locations in the Ottawa area. He decided to take the chance and open his first GTA location last month during a pandemic.
“The hospitality industry has been devastated,” he said, speaking to CTV News Toronto. While he admits that his decision to open was a risk, he says it was an educated risk.
“Takeout food is doing extremely well. Our food is made for taking out,” he said.
When you walk in, Kettleman’s Bagel has a very busy feel. Almost everything is made in-house and customers can actually see bakers rolling the dough and cooking the bagels in the oven. While the line keeps customers socially distanced, for it to stretch out the door is common.
“It’s crazy busy already,” says Melissa Dimech, a customer who came in just because she saw the lineup and wanted to see why so many people were there.
“You can just go in and out right, so I guess you can just call it pandemic proof,” says customer Chivas Lumbal.
Some customers say that it is nice to see a business actually open during the pandemic.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s something to look forward to and it’s a happy place to come to,” says Aliki Markakis, who came in for the first time with her two kids.
At a time when many in the service industry are looking for work, the Kettlemans location at Brown’s Line and Evans Avenue in Etobicoke employs over a hundred people. Moreover, Buckley said that the pandemic has actually helped them attract talent.
“We’ve been able to get some amazing team members, that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to get before,” he says.
One of those team members is John Mitchell. He is a former executive chef at the Rogers Centre, serving crowds by the tens of thousands. He originally chuckled at the idea of joining a bagel shop, but he says that when he saw the operation, he decided to make the move.
“It just keeps getting busier and busier and that excites me. You just see the growth,” he says.
Buckley says that their success during the pandemic has him thinking of even more growth.
“This makes us even more anxious to start opening more stores,” he says.
They plan on opening more in the GTA. Not just one or two new stores, Buckley says they are looking at 12 to 15 locations.
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