What started as an easy way to exercise quickly turned into a booming bagel business for Brendan Dodd.
After graduating from Loyola University in 2016, Dodd, 24, started working at Humble Bagel’s uptown location in New Orleans. At the end of the workday, leftover bagels were tossed in the garbage. So, being the mensch that he is, Dodd figured he’d salvage the stale goods and hand them out for free to students at Tulane University.
“I started taking the bagels and putting them in Tulane Classifieds, asking if anyone wanted free bagels,” Dodd told Very Local New Orleans. “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.”
The bicycling bagel boy became known across campus as just that — Bagel Boy.
After experimenting with ingredients while working at the shop, Dodd perfected his top-secret bagel recipe, and come January of 2017, he opened Bagel Boy NOLA. The delivery service’s goods are all homemade and baked fresh daily by the Bagel Boy himself. And now, Dodd’s delightful delicacies are carried in eight different cafes around New Orleans, including Sacred Grinds and Arrow Cafe.
Just how did the small delivery service become so successful in a short period of time? Sweat, determination, a lack of sleep, and colors. Yes, brightly colored bagels.
A Loyola University professor inspired Dodd to sell Mardi Gras themed bagels, and when the popular Instagram account Eating NOLA got ahold of the purple and yellow bagel, it was shared with their 149K followers.
“It kind of took off and became its own little thing,” Dodd said. “That’s what got me to try other colors.”
Soon enough, local coffee shops asked Bagel Boy if he did wholesale. “What’s wholesale?” Dodd asked. Eventually, he found out.
The hardest part of the growing demand for Bagel Boy bagels is waking up earlier, Dodd says. He’ll start baking at 2:00 a.m. and make anywhere from 100 to 250 bagels a day.
“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.”
New Orleans is known for their beignets, not their bagels, but Dodd’s business is changing that. Even with UberEats and Postmates, the Bagel Boy says that part of the charm of his shop is delivering freshly baked bagels to customers.
“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,”Dodd said. “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.”
Image credit: BagelBoyNOLA on Instagram