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Rising to the occasion: Furniture store owners embrace new opportunity in food industry

By Luke Whittaker

The Daily Astorian

Published on January 17, 2018 11:15AM

Kathryn and Tracey Johnson became the owners of Bagels by the Sea in August. The couple plans to continue operating the business as it has for nearly 20 years. “We don’t want to change something that works,” Tracey said. “It’s a great formula that has a great following.”

LUKE WHITTAKER

Kathryn and Tracey Johnson became the owners of Bagels by the Sea in August. The couple plans to continue operating the business as it has for nearly 20 years. “We don’t want to change something that works,” Tracey said. “It’s a great formula that has a great following.”

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Several varieties from savory to sweet bagels are made fresh daily at Bagels by the Sea.The Asiago and bacon cheddar bagel are two of the top sellers.

LUKE WHITTAKER

Several varieties from savory to sweet bagels are made fresh daily at Bagels by the Sea.The Asiago and bacon cheddar bagel are two of the top sellers.

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Bagels by the Sea also has a full-service espresso bar featuring Seattle’s Best Coffee.

LUKE WHITTAKER

Bagels by the Sea also has a full-service espresso bar featuring Seattle’s Best Coffee.

Buy this photo

SEASIDE — Over the past nearly 20 years, a Seaside business built a name and a devout following around a simple premise: Bagels by the Sea. In late August, Tracey and Kathryn Johnson committed to continuing the tradition after becoming the official owners.


Running start


The number of bagels made each day varies with the seasons, with May through October being peak bagel season. Their first official day in business was Aug. 24, the same weekend as the Hood to Coast Relay which drew more than 12,000 participants for the 199-mile event that finishes in Seaside. It was an intense beginning for the couple learning the basics of the new business. Keeping up with the lines of customers was the biggest challenge. Each day demand called for 1,200 to 1,500 bagels.

“We jumped right into the fire,” Kathryn said. “It was like being in a pressure cooker.”

The summer crowds have largely subsided and each has found their roles within the new business. Kathryn manages the staff and oversees ordering supplies, a time-consuming task considering the bagels are baked fresh daily. The Johnsons have relied heavily on their experienced 10-person staff.

“They’re all seasoned,” Kathryn said. “I inherited a great staff.”


Building a history


The building, sandwiched between Avenues and B along S. Holladay Drive in Seaside, was a bank before becoming home to Bagels by the Sea more than a decade ago. The cavernous interior gives credence to building’s former life and provides a unique ambiance.

“Everyone loves the space,” Kathryn said. “It’s unique and has it’s own personality — it’s not cookie cutter.”

New sturdy wooden furniture now adorns the dining area in place of the plastic tables.

“It just adds a little more flavor to what we’re doing,” Tracey said.


Star Furniture


For nearly 11 years, the Johnsons have been the owners of Star Furniture, located at 130 S. Holladay Drive, just across the parking lot from Bagels by the Sea. While Kathryn will be more hands-on with the bagel business, Tracey will continue to concentrate his efforts on the furniture business next door.

“I’ve been in the furniture business for 40 years,” Tracey said. “I feel a little more comfortable over there.”

Throughout the interior new tables and stools have replaced the plastic furniture from the past. While the two industries are vastly different they share a common challenge.

“Planning and purchasing is the most important thing,” Tracey said. While the furniture store requires inventory planning months in advance, the bagel business is more day-to-day due to the short shelf-life of ingredients.

“You can’t buy fresh fish, lettuce or tomatoes a month out,” he said.


More than bagels


The bagels are made fresh in-house daily and provides the foundation for their breakfast and lunch menu, but a full espresso bar, house-made side dishes and fresh-baked sweets are all available. Among the several varieties from savory to sweet bagels a few standouts have emerged. The Asiago bagel and bacon cheddar bagel are among the most requested. Various cream cheeses, toppings and bagel types make for a multitude of options.

“Every day you can have a new experience,” Tracey said. “There’s a whole lot more here than bagels and cream cheese.”


Continuing a Seaside staple


No major overhauls to the business or menu are anticipated, but streamlining service and improving the interior has been the focus during the first few months for the Johnsons, who feel their biggest duty is to simply to continue the tradition the bagel shop has built over the past 17 years in Seaside.

“We don’t want to change something that works,” Tracey said. “It’s a great formula that has a strong following.”

The first few months have been rewarding.

“There’s a joy in giving people a simple pleasure,” Kathryn said.



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