/A friendship based on breakfast

A friendship based on breakfast

CLEVELAND — It is fitting that Marisol Doyle and Kate Gluckman, co-owners at Big River Bagels, met for the first time over breakfast. Gluckman, her fiancé, had moved to Cleveland in 2013 and stopped by the restaurant where Doyle worked. Doyle was struck by their friendship and invited them to eat with her. Because Doyle was working, Sunday breakfast was the only meal that Doyle had on hand. Sunday brunch is a great social event. This is not the case in our small college town. Fast food is the only option for breakfast on weekdays. Gluckman, who was born in Vermont, is used to having more choices. She says that there isn’t even one place in Cleveland that makes homemade bread. “You have to be willing and able to drive an hour to Oxford to get bagels or baked goods,” she says. The two friends had been together for a while, but decided to stop. They would just have to make their own breakfast if there wasn’t one in Cleveland. The pair started experimenting with different bagel recipes last February. Big River Bagels was born in May, the start of the Cleveland Farmers Market season. In less than 45 minutes, nearly 200 bagels were gone in that first Saturday morning. Doyle stated that Doyle had no idea what it would turn out to be. “When we baked the bagels, we asked, ‘What do we do with them all [when we don’t sell ]?'”] They started to talk about whether there was a place in Cleveland that would accept donations of baked goods. If not, they thought they could donate leftovers to their friends. Bagels were almost considered a foreign food by some Clevelanders. Doyle, who was born in Mexico, remembers a farmer’s market customer refusing to even try them. He said they were too American. Others needed to understand the concept of bagels or be tempted beyond the basic flavors. Each week featured a variety of options including plain, everything and cheddar as well as cinnamon raisin and asiago as well as special cream cheeses such as jalapeno cheddar and honey pecan. Everything continued to sell, even as they added coffee and bagel breakfast sandwiches. As soon as the market opened, a line would form and Doyle and Gluckman would continue to make bagels with their husbands until all was gone. Big River sold 25 bagsels on the weekend of July 4. Doyle says she often runs into people who miss their weekly bagel fix now that the farmers’ market season has ended. Doyle and Gluckman find winter a welcome respite. They would go to the grocery store every Thursday during summer. Then, they would start making the dough on Friday night. Doyle and Gluckman would meet in the rented kitchen at 4:30 am to prepare for Saturday’s event. They would weigh out the dough, boil it, and bake the final loaf. Doyle stated that it was not too bad. Doyle said that they would be tired but not sleepy. However, the first half of summer was so exciting that they didn’t notice. By the end of summer though, Doyle admitted that they were starting to tire. Gluckman was still happy with the response. She said that people go to school to learn how to make food and that we were just hacking at it. “But people really liked it — so I knew that we were delivering quality products.” She said she is proud of her company’s adherence to the values of her friends: localism and the value of hand-made. They avoid Styrofoam. Stanley, a sculptor, and woodworker created a handcrafted display course. Gluckman stated, “This is who and what we believe — and our customers appreciated it, and were willing and able to pay for that.” “I understand that our bagels cost more than those you can buy at the grocery stores, but they are made fresh every morning, so that is why I chose to make them.” Gluckman said that the business thrived because of their shared skills: Doyle was a problem-solver and organizer, while Gluckman was a visionary and skilled baker. Gluckman had previously considered opening a Cleveland bakery. Stanley, her then-fiancee, was hired to teach art at Delta State University. Gluckman didn’t have a job or knew very few people when she moved to Cleveland. Doyle stated that she had always loved baking (“She would make blueberry pies, which are so delicious”) and believed that a new bakery could be a place to gather people. This plan was canceled when she got a job. When the pair were invited to open a restaurant in a newly built hotel on the edge, it was hard to say “No”. They even visited a Jackson bagel shop to see how it operated. Both Doyle and Gluckman are happy with their current jobs (Gluckman is the executive Director of the Sunflower County Freedom Project for after-school programs for public school students, while Doyle works at Long Chiropractic). They don’t see themselves ever going full-time. Yet. Gluckman stated that it was a great opportunity. “But it wasn’t 100 percent perfect.” Big River Bagels will be back at the farmers’ market this spring and will participate in various pop-up events during the off-season. Doyle and Gluckman are looking at partnering with local coffee shops or restaurants to provide a year-round vendor for their bagels. They know that a place for homemade brunch will eventually open in their area. Doyle stated, “It must,” Doyle added. If the Cleveland breakfasters are fortunate, things might change and Big River Bagels will continue to serve up their home-baked goodness. Gluckman says that he still dreams about it. Marisol and me have such a great partnership that I can make it happen. It would be great to do something together that is even more than we have done.