Friends First, Bagel-makers Second
Long before two couples opened a bagel shop last year in a former historic train station in Easthampton, they were friends first.
Chris and Andrea Zawacki and Brian and Shannon Greenwood have children who are all the same ages, and Chris and Brian coached recreational sports together for their kids’ teams.
For years the friends talked about operating a business together. When potential location after location did not work out, their idea sat like an abandoned railroad car.
But the Greenwoods heard that a Williston Northampton School faculty member who had been living in the renovated train depot was going to retire and leave that space. They brought their idea for a bagel shop in that location to the Zawackis.
Tandem Bagel, which leases the space from Williston, opened in March 2013.
The idea for a bagel shop first came about when the Zawackis lived in Vancouver, Washington, in 1996. They frequented Sunrise Bagels & More. They loved the fresh bagels and got to know the owner. When they moved back to this area in 1998, they kept in touch with Sunrise’s owner and the idea for a local bagel shop kept growing. Andrea, Chris and Brian even went back to Sunrise before opening Tandem to get trained by the owner on how make a bagel.
While Easthampton has some cool eateries, there was nothing local like the bagel shop they all envisioned. With the backdrop of former train station—adjacent to the Manhan Rail Trail—Tandem Bagel is open for breakfast and lunch and features more than 30 varieties of bagels—from the traditional plain to the funky snickerdoodle. Salads, cookies and soups compliment the menu. They also offer a variety of coffees and milkshakes. This month, Tandem is promoting its “Latte Love Raspberry White Mocha made with love.”
With no restaurant experience among them, the Greenwoods and the Zawackis had to learn not only how to make a bagel but needed to dig deep to familiarize themselves with all the state and local food and beverage regulations. Seems as interesting as watching paint dry but they know the importance of providing a safe and clean restaurant.
Word spread quickly about Tandem and soon the owners were working hard to meet demand. Many times, a line snakes all the way to the door. This rapid success prompted the owners to open up a satellite shop this month in a café in the Northampton Athletic Club in Northampton.
I am impressed that they have learned to make a delicious bagel and become savvy at marketing themselves. After I wrote a story recently for The Republican’s annual business section, called Outlook, the owners quickly posted the link from the paper’s online site, MassLive.com, to Tandem’s Facebook page. The posting drew many “likes” and written responses from customers. One person wrote: “Best bagels in the world and a really nice atmosphere as well.” Another chimed in with: “You’ve transformed this little town, we love you Tandem!” And another customer proclaimed: “Congratulations on the beginning of the Tandem Empire!”
Pretty cool comments for an endeavor that’s coming up on its first anniversary. Four friends created the little bagel shop that could.
To learn more about Tanden Bagel Company, visit http://www.tandembagelco.com/.