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Conversations with Jules Zidi and Tim Shaeffer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jules Zidi and Tim Shaeffer.

Hi Jules & Tim, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
We are both from the East Coast and absolutely love San Diego. The beaches, the weather, the people… there is just so much to love. The only thing that has been missing without a doubt has been bagels. Big bagel guys.

One night, roughly two years ago, we decided we were going to fix this issue which started our bagel journey. We spent the coming months reading almost everything we could about bagels, bread, dough proofing, and baking. After a lot of trial and error (and carbs) we finally found a recipe we thought was good enough to sell, and Best Coast Bagels was born.

It started out small. We would tell our friends about our bagel Instagram and put up a post + story 1-2 times a week to let everyone know we were accepting orders via DMs for the coming weekend. We would make the bagels Friday night and Saturday morning in our kitchens and then get in our cars to deliver them later that day!

The first few months were great but very challenging. Creating even 20-30 bagels in an at home kitchen is tough, the biggest issue being proofing and oven space. Depending on where the bagels sat overnight in the oven they would proof differently and would create large discrepancies in size. When it came to baking, there were only so many bagels you can fit in one oven, so we would have to go through multiple rounds of baking which added a ton of time to the process.

We reached the point of weekend orders over 75+ bagels and our kitchens could no longer handle the demand – so we had to move to a commercial kitchen. We landed on Park 734 Kitchen in the East Village of San Diego. We ultimately chose this space over others because of the owner and manager of the space, Patricia and Kevin. They have both been extremely helpful throughout the process, offering their services and expertise anytime we need it!

Since moving into the commercial kitchen, we have been able to expand our operation. Before getting a weekend order of 100 bagels seemed like an almost impossible feat, where now it is the status quo. Being able to consistently mix, proof, and bake in such a large quantity has allowed us to make more bagels than what our customers pre-order and has led to our PB Pop-ups that we’ve been doing almost weekly for the past two months.

Doing the pop-ups is easily our favorite part of the job. Getting to interact with people and see how interested and passionate they are about bagels has been so much fun. It is also a bit surreal when we give our bagels to complete strangers, and they light up after taking a bite.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It sounds cliché but one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced so far is ourselves. It can be really easy to get in your own head and doubt yourself – Are these bagels good? Are people going to order them? At the end of the day, you have to continue to believe in yourself and let the product speak for itself.

Outside of that, the other biggest challenge was kitchen space. One of the most important parts of the bagel making process is letting the dough proof overnight. As we got more and more consistent orders, it made it impossible to continue this endeavor in our at-home kitchens. Then after moving into the commercial kitchen space, we had to rework our recipe and timings for the larger but more efficient cooking equipment.

Finally, balancing our day jobs with the bagels has been tough. It has required a lot of early mornings and late nights but we hope that eventually this work will pay off and make our bagel business our full time 9-5.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
What sets us apart from others are two things:

First and foremost, it’s our bagels. We are extremely proud of them and it took a lot of time and effort to get them to the place they are now. We would argue they are the best you can find in San Diego and go toe to toe with some of the best on the West Coast.

Second thing that sets us apart is – you guessed it – our bagels but more specifically our bagel flavors. We obviously have the classics (Everything, Plain, Sesame, Garlic, etc.) but we also have specialty flavors you can’t get elsewhere. The big 3 are the Cheddar Jalapeno, Pizza, and Cinnamon French Toast and what really sets them apart is that we mix the specialty ingredients into the dough. So for example, the Cheddar Jalapeno has diced jalapeno mixed into the dough so every bite tastes great and the flavor is consistent throughout the bagel.

Outside of that, what we’re really proud of is the fact that we’re actually doing this! We talked about it for a while, so now that we have started to gain momentum, it has been awesome to be a part of it.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Get ready for some more cliches…

Get comfortable being uncomfortable – There have been a few times when we’ve felt like we were not ready to make the next step (like when we officially moved into a commercial kitchen, opened our first business account, or ran our first pop-up.) but if we never took the leap of faith, we would probably still be in our kitchens limiting the full potential of Best Coast Bagels.

That said, don’t overextend to the point where you are putting your product at risk – now that we are reaching customers outside of our friend circle, first impressions are everything. If someone has a bad Best Coast Bagel, it may be the last time we see them and could ruin our momentum. There have been a few times where we have had to turn orders down or pull back on orders because a batch of bagels did not come out to our standards, which we believe was ultimately better than serving customers bad bagels.

Now beyond the clichés, we also learned how to kickstart and manage a business. There is a lot of paperwork and platforms that you don’t really hear about when people talk about starting a business. Google has been a good friend. Luckily we have prior experience starting a business (Tim) and working in the restaurant industry (Jules) so we have been able to leverage our prior experience to help start Best Coast Bagels as well.

Pricing:

  • $3.00 for 1 Bagel
  • $15.00 for 6 Bagels
  • $25.00 for 12 Bagels
  • $3.00 for Regular Cream Cheese
  • $3.50 for Specialty Cream Cheese

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Pictures of the Pop Up and of us in our white shirts were taken by The Wandering Rita (IG: @Wanderingrita, website wanderingrita.com) All other pictures were taken by us!

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