The taste of tradition

Always Bagels has gained a reputation for producing classic, old-fashioned boiled bagels, which has helped it stock its products in in-store bakeries all over the United States

If we are to judge by the successful exploits of Always Bagels, the American of today’s taste in bagels still leans towards the more traditional, old-fashioned boiled type. The history of the company AB 135 cbegan in 1985, when it opened its first retail bakery in Port Jefferson, NY. Three more bakeries followed in the next few years, but the major breakthrough came in 1996, when Always Bagels opened its first wholesale facility to meet the increasing demand for its products from local hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets. Only seven years later, in 2003, the company’s operation had grown to such an overwhelming level that it was ready to open a 30,000 square feet facility in New York, which it still uses to date. And in 2009, Always Bagels expanded again, opening a fully-automated, 75,000 square feet factory in Pennsylvania.

FoodChain got in touch with Always Bagels’ President, Tony Pariti, to learn more about the company and the way it wins over its customers. “Over the years, consumers have been educated on the quality and the differences of certain products, and they recognise our unique manufacturing process as a bringer of classic-tasting bagels,” he begins. “We employ scratch recipes to make our bagels, which means that there are no pre-prepared bases or mixes, and in order to give the product stronger flavour, we have settled for longer retarding and bake times for the bagel to achieve a thick crust and shine. Our experience has shown us that people prefer a crisp exterior and a chewy interior with a slight pull when you bite,” Tony explains.

Well-known for the versatility of its items, Always Bagels pampers its clients with a range of flavours, which include poppy, sesame, onion, blueberry, chocolate chip, and country apple among others. For Tony, however, the brand’s signature bagel is the Jalapeno Cheddar, part of its specialty/seasonal flavour selection. “It includes fresh jalapenos and sharp-aged cheddar, and is perfect for breakfast or lunch sandwiches,” he maintains.

Always looking to create new tastes and concepts to attract customers and keep them excited, Tony and his team launched a new sprouted honey multigrain bagel with no sugar added, in 2017. “We work tirelessly with a third-party company that helps us develop new ideas and then we concentrate on their production. We are currently driven by the need to target specific groups of AB 135 bcustomers with a new range of non-GMO, high-protein, and grain-based items. Our plans are to release these products in 2018.”

When Always Bagels first entered the wholesale market, its target were the instore bakeries inside retail supermarkets. Having proven successful in this segment of the market, the brand has continued in a similar vein ever since. “The growth has been tremendous over the years, as we acquired chain after chain. It was done mainly through word of mouth, as different chains were looking at their competitors, and upon noticing that our products have become popular, they wanted us to supply them, too,” Tony narrates.

Gradually, the brand has established a strong presence in most of the American states, having also set foot in international markets. Tony clarifies: “Our products are offered all across Canada, and we have the aspirations to grow this market further, alongside our home market in the USA. We also supply to Israel and we are seeing a strong performance there, as consumers are becoming more aware of the leading quality of our bagels.”

The availability of the best equipment is an integral part of Always Bagels’ everyday operations, and Tony has taken care of ensuring that the team has the most efficient technology at its disposal that will help it work its magic. “When we built our facilities, we bought cutting-edge equipment, and we continue to invest regularly in upgrades. The most recent investments we made consisted of the purchase of a new tunnel oven loader, a step proofing system, and a board accumulation system. They all facilitated the production process and improved our efficiency.”

Investment in new equipment is guaranteed to remain on the agenda for the company in 2018, but its ambitions spread even further with the planned expansion of its Pennsylvania facility that will start this year. “The expansion is necessary, because it will allow us to ramp up capacity, thus meeting the growing demand from customers for our everyday items, and the new products we are going to launch. In addition to this, we would like to keep an eye on possible mergers and acquisitions in the long-term that will help us reach the next level,” Tony wraps up.