Alex Berkowitz accomplished a dream of his when he opened the Bagel Nook in Freehold a few years ago. With the help of his parents and sister, he put his own spin on the classic bagel, creating a brand that’s been heard of all over the country.
Wanting to start out with a bang, the Bagel Nook introduced their Oreo Overload bagel (made with Oreo cream cheese and Oreo cookies) and Fruity Pebble bagel when they first opened, as well as house-made specialty cream cheeses. Now, five and a half years later, this specialty bagel place has over 50 kinds of bagels (including the Cannoli French Toast Overload), 45 cream cheese spreads (like their seasonal gingerbread flavor), and their own line of house brewed coffee.
After just recently opening a second location in Princeton, the Bagel Nook has high hopes for the future and growth of their family owned business.
“We’re always coming up with new and exciting items together,” says Berkowitz of working with his family. “Each one of us plays a role in the creations and the craziness that goes on at the Bagel Nook.”
We caught up with Berkowitz to ask about running a family business, his crazy bagel creations and plans to franchise in the future.
TH: What is your day-to-day like at the Bagel Nook?
AB: I run the day to day operations. It’s a family business so my sister, Jessica Berkowitz, takes care of all the Instagram, Facebook, and PR and marketing work. My parents are also involved and help out whenever it’s needed.
TH: What’s it like working with your family?
AB: Honestly, it’s pretty cool. It’s good that we’re a close knit family. We always come together and make sure that we get the job done and get it done right. So it’s great.
TH: What was the idea that led to the opening of the Bagel Nook?
AB: I always wanted to open up a bagel store when I was younger. When the time was right, we found the place in Freehold and opened the Bagel Nook. When we opened up, we knew we wanted it to be different. We knew that we wanted to stand out and didn’t want to be just a regular old bagel store.
TH: Over the years, you’ve grown into this Instagram fame with your bagel creations. What’s that been like?
AB: It’s great… We really try to be there for the community. That was one of our main goals when we opened up. We just wanted to be a community shop and put a smile on people’s faces.
TH: Did your Instagram following lead you to the decision to ship nationwide?
AB: We’ve been shipping for about four and a half to five years now. We got picked up for the shipping nationwide back when we first opened and created our Oreo Overload. That sparked the buzz for shipping.
TH: Do you see a lot of online orders?
AB: Our shipping department is pretty busy. We also ship all of our heart bagels during Valentine’s Day, pumpkin bagels during Halloween, four-leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day, and right now we’re doing ones for the holidays.
TH: What kind of seasonal bagels are you currently doing?
AB: Right now we’re doing Christmas and Hanukkah bagels. We also have eggnog cream cheese, Grinch cream cheese, and an Apple Cider French Toast bagel.
TH: Some of the crazier items on your menu are things like the Hot Cheeto bagel. What goes into creating new flavors?
AB: We’ve always looked to try and outdo ourselves. We just have fun with it. We take an idea and just try to turn it into something crazy. We just love what we do and we love creating.
TH: Do you have a favorite bagel/cream cheese combo?
AB: My favorite would probably be the Elvis, which is a French toast bagel with peanut butter swirl cream cheese, freshly sliced bananas and crispy bacon.
TH: What are your plans going into the New Year?
AB: Right now we’re just kind of riding out the holiday season. And then we roll right into Valentine’s Day in February. In the upcoming year, we hope that we could open up a couple more franchise locations and just build the brand a little bit further so we can continue to put smiles on people’s faces.
The Bagel Nook is located at 51 Village Center Drive in Freehold and at 301 N. Harrison Street in Princeton. Order online to get specialty bagels delivered fresh to your doorstep or try out their house brewed coffee brand, Nook Coffee. Check out their verified Instagram account for more delicious creations.Click here to leave a comment