23/05/2022

Brooklyn Boy’s ‘Everything Bagel’ Is Proving A Hit With Sydneysiders

Editorial Team | Interviews

This business owner has found a way to transport customers to New York backstreets in a single bite.

New Yorker and chief “Dough Raiser” Michael Shafran knows his bagels from his buns and it’s this less-than-subtle difference that is helping this Brooklyn-born flour thrower to build a doughy empire. “If it ain’t boiled, it ain’t a bagel,” he shouts.

Brooklyn Boy Bagels, a café come bakery concept, was born out of Shafran’s frustration of being unable to buy a “real bagel” in Australia, which in turn put him on a path to create the solution to his own problem. “It had nothing to do about really wanting to start a business,” he explains, “I just wanted to see if anyone else cared besides me, what real traditional boiled bagels were like.”

At the opening of his first popup store in Darlinghurst, Shafran was surprised to be met with queues down the block which lead him to realise that there may be more interest in his New Yorker bakery concept than he originally thought.

“What we make here at Brooklyn Boy Bagels
sometimes surprises people.”

In its short lifetime, Brooklyn Boy Bagels has outgrown many of its homes, each space leapfrogging in size and ambition. From its modest first step as a Darlinghurst popup, it moved quickly to a co-catering space in a kosher kitchen in Bondi and then onto the farmer’s markets spanning from Western Sydney to the Central Coast. Shafran took a tiny 90-square metre bakery in Matraville in Sydney’s inner West before finally finding a worthy home in Marrickville, a space that now boasts a much larger footprint, a production bakery and café all in one.

“What we make here at Brooklyn Boy Bagels sometimes surprises people,” says Shafran, who has expanded his menu into other crusted corners, from artisan sourdough and rye, maple bacon doughnuts and bagel chips, to jalapeno and smoked salmon cream cheese creations. “What we’re trying to do… is transport people back to New York in a single bite,” he laughs.

As such, Shafran understands the power of community and has helped to build a brand through strategic partnerships with like-minded brands. One of the first Brooklyn Boy Bagel collaborations was with cult butter brand Pepe Saya. Shafran recalls visiting the butter factory in which Pierre himself made a special zaatar butter, that looked like an egg, which was then served at the Brooklyn Boy Bagels popup. Pierre “even came behind the counter and he was actually slinging bagels with me.”

Fast forward to 2022 and Brooklyn Boys Bagels latest collaboration involves Akasha Brewery in Five Dock. The brewery is making a blueberry bagel beer and Shafran in return is making a beer flavoured bagel out of their dark stout. “A bagel is made with wheat and malt and beer is made with wheat and malt. So, they seem like a match made in heaven” laughs Shafran. Along with his bombastic charisma and red Billy Joel-esque red onesie, it’s this kind of Willy Wonker experimentation that sets Brooklyn Boy Bagel apart.

“It’s fun for me to really stay on top of technology and use all these emerging technologies to run our business better.”

Shafran wasn’t always a bagel maker. In fact, it was from a career in food journalism and computers that his business was born and a combination that continues to play an important role in running Brooklyn Boy Bagels today. He admits that his love of platforms sometimes drives his staff crazy. Shafran does it all from Shopify to drive online sales, to Mailchimp for email marketing, Facebook, Instagram and more recently TikTok in which customers can now order products straight from videos.

Platforms such as Uber Eats have also added value in reaching new customers. Particularly on those rainy days when people are ordering from the comfort of their home. “It’s fun for me to really stay on top of technology and use all these emerging technologies to run our business better.”

Shafran is constantly considering ways in which he can grow the business and innovate his products. His goal is to reach more customers and open more bagel shops around Australia, expanding Brooklyn Boy Bagels without losing that beautiful artisan feel.

“I’m a journalist before I was a baker. I’m a New Yorker. And I think… those things are all about truth and authenticity. And that’s really where I want to keep going with the business. Even as we grow our aspirations for what we’re doing here.”

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