After a year of experiments, donations, and countless bagels, the Albany Bagel Co. is finishing the summer season strong. The Albany Bagel Co. is a local business run by volunteers making awesome, authentic NY style bagels by hand and donating all proceeds to Albany charities.
We’re asking Mike Dirolf, Albany Baking Co. representative, ten questions (and one bonus!) about the business and community. Mike Dirolf was raised in Colonie, but he spent some time in NYC, where he learned how good bagels can be.
1. How did the Albany Bagel Co.come about?
Mike: A few of us were sitting around talking about how we wished there was another source of bagels in the area. Then we got started talking about trying to make them ourselves and it grew from there.
2. Why bagels?
Mike: Living in NYC for four years spoiled me. When I moved back up here I wanted to find bagels as good as the ones I could get down there, and I wasn’t really able to find them. So we set out to make them ourselves.
3. Who else is involved in the company?
Mike: It’s all family and friends. So my brothers, my parents, my cousin, and a bunch of friends of ours. Everyone helps in different ways and it’s 100% volunteer. It’s been amazing to see how so many people have been willing to give up their time to make this happen.
4. To what charities do you donate, and why?
Mike: All of our profits go to charity and our goal is to work with charities that are focused specifically on the Albany area. Right now we’re working with Homeward Bound Dog Rescue and Albany Bike Rescue (there’s more information about each on our website). We think they’re both great causes and they’re also small enough that our donations can make a big difference.
5. What were some of the challenges of starting your company?
How did you overcome them?
Mike: Our first challenge was to come up with a recipe for bagels that we were happy with. We spent about a year baking small batches of bagels to try to perfect our recipe and our process. None of us had prior experience with that sort of thing so there was a lot of learning involved. I would say that the next big challenge was trying to jump through all of the hoops involved in being allowed to actually sell bagels at the [Crossings] market. That just took patience.
6. What has been the community’s response to your endeavor?
Mike: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People seem to love the idea of a new bagel store in Albany. It also seems like people love our bagels – we get a lot of repeat customers which always makes us very happy.
7. We’ve noticed you like to experiment a lot with the bagels (mini bagels, adding toppings). What do you think will be your next venture?
Mike: Only time will tell what comes next. We’re all trying to decide what the next step will be for ABC after the market season ends on September 14th.
8. How does the history and evolution of Albany work into your company?
Mike: I love learning about the history of the city of Albany – my family immigrated to Albany four generations ago and we’ve been hanging around ever since, so maybe it’s in my blood. At the same time I think all of us are excited about Albany’s future and are excited to be a part of it. So with ABC we try to do our best to get people to share our excitement about the city.
9. What is the most rewarding part of operating the Albany Bagel Co.?
Mike: It’s hard to say. It’s rewarding to be helping out local charities but I think the most gratifying thing is when somebody comes back after buying a bagel to tell us how much they enjoyed it. That feels really good.
10. How can local bagel lovers and businesses get involved with Albany Bagel Co.?
Mike: For bagel lovers the best thing to do is come out to the Crossings Market one of these Saturdays (the last day is September 14th) and try a bagel! As for other businesses, we’re open to pretty much anything. We’d like to see more businesses giving back to the community and would be happy to talk to anybody about how best to do that.
Bonus Question! What is the best flavor bagel?
Mike: My favorite is the everything bagel.
There only are three more Saturdays in the market season to try out the Albany Bagel Co,’s authentic NY bagels and contribute to their cause. Find them on Saturdays from 9-1 at the Crossings Market on 580 Albany-Shaker Road across from Emerick Lane.
“Like” Albany Bagel Co. on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to keep up with their latest endeavors.