This month, the Ottawa Bagelshop is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Its signature red awning is a Wellington West landmark and the shop and deli have become a neighbourhood institution.
On weekends there are long line-ups for the hand-rolled bagels that come fresh out of the oven every three minutes. That’s 500 dozen bagels each day, 360 days of the year – meaning this family owned business has served over 30 million bagels since they opened their doors in April 1984.
Westboro resident, Sarah Heath, says she keeps coming back for the “great bagels and friendly staff.” She adds that it’s also “one of the only places in town where you can still get Devon Cream.” [framed_box width=”160px” align=”right”]To mark their 30th anniversary, on April 25 and 26, the Bagleshop will offer half a dozen bagels at the 1984 price – $1.75 (regular price: $4.95). Some customers may even be lucky enough to be served by Mayor Watson or Councillor Hobbs.[/framed_box]
While the quality and variety of food products draw customers time and again, Bagelshop owner and founderrecalls that when he first opened, there was not very much pedestrian traffic.
But it did not take long for customers to come calling.
“We were unique,” says Piazza. “We brought a unique product.”
Piazza had the first wood-burning oven in Ontario and the shop was the first place in town to serve classic Montreal-style bagels. The recipe for his bagels came from Piazza’s brother-in-law Joe Morena, owner of St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal.
Piazza was artisanal before artisanal was trendy. His bagels have always been made with natural ingredients. They are hand-rolled and boiled in honey water.
When the Bagelshop first opened, Piazza had only a 900-square-foot store that carried about 25 products in addition to bagels. Over the years, the store expanded to over 7,000 square feet and now includes a restaurant.
Although Piazza has over 100 suppliers around the world, he makes a point of supporting local artisans, such as Mrs. McGarrigle’s, Isobel Cookies and Cupcakes, and Michaelsdolce.
While the founder is still active in managing the store, Piazza admits that he is starting to slow down as he hands the reins over to his daughter Liliane.
Liliane Piazza was only two years old when the Bagelshop first opened, and practically grew up in the store. As a child she would come home from school at lunchtime and eat salami and bagel sandwiches in the back. As she got older, she began taking on different jobs in the busy shop and restaurant.
She moved back to Ottawa two years ago with her husband Matthew Troncale to begin learning the ropes from her father so that she can take over the family business.
“The opportunity was too good to pass up,” she says. “I love being part of this community.”