April 25th, 1984.
My Dad does a lot of things well, but nostalgia isn’t one of them. That being said, when I asked him about the official opening day in 1984 he remembers it vividly. He said there was a “Great anticipation – people found out about the store opening and about our new product.” Lots of people arrived and everyone who came in got a free bagel to try. He felt “a little nervous”, but then felt relief that people really liked this wonderful new product– our Montreal style, wood oven baked bagels.
The original store was completely open concept, and the new customers could watch the bagels being made. Local residents were delighted to have a store that not only carried a great product but could also be entertaining! The original store carried only 20 products. Anything we thought could be enjoyed with our bagels. Such things as smoked salmon, fresh smoked fish, jam, cream cheese, herring, juices, butter, milk, brewed coffee to go, pickles, capers, olives. It stayed like that for about 6 months until the larger delicatessen space was finally set up.
The word “delicatessen” means “eating delicacies, or eating very fine foods.” We have striven from day one to provide the best possible products in our deli. And we constantly strive to provide the best possible service to our customers.
I was two years old at time and have no recollection of that day, or any time in my life that the Bagelshop wasn’t around. I’ve always been proud that my dad was “the boss” even though as I kid I had no idea what he actually did all day. Now I admire him and my mother for doing what small business people do every day, to come in to work, provide a service to the community, and grow a little part of the world that is theirs. I am so thrilled to be a part of this process today. I get to work with my father and my husband, along with a great staff – some of which I’ve known since I was that little 2 year old.
Please come and help us celebrate this weekend, Friday April 25th and Saturday April 26th as we thank you our loyal customers with in-store specials, great prizes, face painting, special guests and more!
In the meantime, here are 30 Bagelshop facts that we’d like to share!
1) The first specialty bagel, the cinnamon raisin, wasn’t introduced until 1988.
2) In 30 years we have made over 45 000 000 bagels!
3) We have 3 employees that have been with us for 30 years. Vince, Toi Do, and Hoang Vo. Mark Gagne has been with us for 29 years.
4) The restaurant section of the bagelshop is over 80 years old and was originally a house, then a community centre, then a church before we acquired the property in 1996.
5) The Ottawa Bagelshop has grown 800% since opening its doors in 1984. The original store was 800 sq feet. Now it is nearly 8000 sq feet!
6) We use over 50,0000 lbs of sesame seeds a year on bagels!. Open sesame!
7) Over our 30 years we have employed nearly 650 different employees. Many of them still come visit us at the shop!
8) We have over 170 000 people walk through our doors every year! Thank you, Ottawa!
9) Vincenzo Piazza came to Canada in 1956 and started his career at the Ritz Carleton Hotel in Montreal in 1962. That’s 52 years of experience in the food business!
10) The Ottawa Bagelshop bagel is the only bagel in Ottawa that has a direct connection to the St. Viateur bagel in Montreal. The St. Viateur bagel is the most famous bagel in Canada, and was brought here by Vince and his brother-in-law, Joe Morena, owner of St. Viateur Bagel.
11) Master Baker, Toi Do, has rolled and baked nearly 18 million bagels himself over his 30 year tenure at the Bagelshop
12) The fastest roller can roll one bagel in 5 seconds!
13) The Sheba is the 9 foot plank of wood we use to maneuver the bagels in the oven. It weighs nearly 10 lbs.
14) The Ottawa Bagelshop and Deli was the first wood-burning bakery oven in Ontario. Vince Piazza set a precedent in law so that wood-burning ovens would be allowed to be built.
15) There has only been one woman roller / baker at the Bagelshop.
16) Our rollers / bakers can win many an arm-wrestle. They have extensive forearm strength!
17) Our Bagelsubs sandwiches were introduced in 1991.
18) We have had 4extensive renovations to our location since 1984.
19) We have over 400 types of cheese, 50 types of deli meats, 80 types of jam, 50 types of mustard, 200 types of tea, and more! We had even more in the past.
20) Vince’s all-time favourite product in the store (other than bagels) is: smoked salmon.
21) We have shown the art of 30 different artists since opening the restaurant in 1996.
22) We carry around 15 local product lines including Michael’s Dolce, Mrs. MacGarrigle’s, Siren’s Granola, Perth Pepper and Pestle, Olivia Chocolates, Degas Chocolates, and more!
23) The unofficial store mascot is Vince’s grandson, Oliver, who comes to the store nearly every day.
24) Why is there a cat peeking behind the old Bagelman logo? It’s the cartoonist’s signature character!
25) On any given day you could hear 7 different languages being spoken by our employees including French, Spanish, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Vietnamese.
26) Vince’s daughter, Liliana started working at the store when she was 12 years old. Looks like she loves bagels!
27) Our bagels have travelled the world as customers have brought them to France, China, Russia and even Australia amongst other places.
28) In 1996 the Robb Report deemed the Ottawa Bagelshop Bagel to be the best bagel in the World!!
29) The Bagelshop is a multi-faceted business which not only manufactures bagels but is a retail specialty food shop, restaurant, catering company, and wholesale company.
30) We are one of the very few kosher pareve wood-burning oven bagel in North America and the only one in Ontario!