By SHERIDAN CYR
Local business owner, Dan Perdomo, knew he would have to be creative when he opened his doors a year ago. He understood that building meaningful relationships in town would be necessary to be successful as yet another food joint to Queen Street.
That’s why Kettle Bagels wasted no time creating community partnerships and introducing Southington and surrounding towns to traditional New Jersey-style, boiled bagels—something outside-of-the-box in Connecticut.
“I thought about what’s lacking in the area and thought, maybe a bagel shop, but made differently than they typically are made here,” said Perdomo. “Back home in Jersey, every bagel shop does it this way. I figured, bagels aren’t a new concept, but if we did it this way, it could work here.”
Kettle Bagels offers traditional flavors of bagels, such as blueberry, cinnamon raison and poppy seed bagels, but they also craft delicious unique recipes like their popular French toast bagels. They also offer homemade muffins, omelets, sandwiches, and much more.
At first, Perdomo said, he wasn’t sure how the market would be. He realized quickly that Southington locals support small businesses when lines began stretching beyond the front door.
“Having a business, it’s not all about taking. You’ve got to give back to others, especially if the community supports you and your endeavors,” he said. “We started realizing we had all these leftover bagels at the end of the day, and at first, I was just throwing them away. I thought, ‘there’s got to be a better way to do this.’”
Perdomo then reached out to Janet Mellon, the director of Southington Community Services, who happily accepted a partnership. Now, Kettle Bagels’ leftover bagels and other menu items are donated to SCS.
“It is just wonderful what they have been able to provide for SCS and for those in need,” said Mellon. “We are very fortunate for the help we receive from the community. The local businesses and residents who donate are the real heroes.”
Perdomo said he has found a great place to grow a business while also raising a family with two young children. As a child, his father ran a restaurant and Perdomo spent time helping out. When he moved to Connecticut, he wanted to get back in the restaurant business, but was concerned about the inevitable long, late hours that come with managing a restaurant while raising a family.
“I’ve always kind of been an entrepreneur,” he said. Perdomo has worked in a variety of roles throughout the years, including a concession stand owner on New Jersey Boardwalks and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with services such as henna tattoos, craft shows and hair wraps. He also spent time as a mortgage loan officer, a construction manager and in sales. “I’ve done a lot of traveling, but this is it. I’m here now. This business is what I want to do, and I’m not going anywhere.”
Like any business owner, Perdomo looked for ways to cut expenses. Rather than pay big money for advertisements, especially as a new business just starting out, Perdomo and his crew decided to get their names out by crafting platters of samples and delivering them to local businesses.
“It worked out great, because they got to try our food, and we had an opportunity to actually talk to their staff and introduce ourselves to them,” he said.
Kettle Bagels has formed a number of local partnerships, for example last year the Boy Scouts set up shop in front of the store and sold popcorn for their annual fundraiser. Perdomo said they completely sold out, and made more money in one day than they did in three days at a nearby department store. He has also donated to the Southington High School band, and will soon sponsor a couple of youth soccer teams.
“This is still just the beginning for us,” said Perdomo. “Community outreach is important and we’ll continue to grow that.”
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI