OCOEE, Fla. – After running their bagel business out of their home for months, Jeff and Danielle Perera have now moved Jeff’s Bagel Run into a brick-and-mortar location in Ocoee.
The bagel bakery now sits at 2787 Old Winter Garden Road in Ocoee. The couple held their soft opening on Wednesday, but plan to do a formal grand opening in July.
Even without the fanfare of a grand opening, people flocked to their new shop Wednesday. The couple sold out their entire inventory of 36 dozen bagels in about two hours, according to Danielle Perera.
The pair credit their community’s support for the success they’ve seen so far.
“If they didn’t love our bagels or support us or — you know, they’re kind of like part of our family at this point,” Danielle Perera said.
She points out that many of their faithful customers have been to their home in Winter Garden to pick up orders when they were running Jeff’s Bagel Run out of their home kitchen.
The whole endeavor got started in 2019 after Jeff Perera got laid off from his job. Danielle Perera decided to head back to work as a district manager for Ross and he became a stay-at-home dad.
“So, (as) a way to keep him busy — it’s hard to transition — I was like, ‘Let’s create a new hobby for you’ and I kind of thought, ‘all right, he’ll do it for a month or two, and then start playing golf or something,” Danielle Perera said.
That started a series of bagel-baking experiments.
“I kept trying them and I’d say, ‘Oh, this isn’t good — more salt or use this, use that’ and then there was like so many bagels in my house, and I was like, ‘All right, we got to get rid of these,’” Danielle Perera said.
From there, word got out about their bagels. People started making orders through Facebook and Instagram and the Pereras tried to keep track with a spreadsheet.
“We decided to convert to a fully online model and we built the website and then it just kind of continued to grow and we started doing farmers markets and little pop-ups at local businesses and would have lines,” Danielle Perera said.
The Pereras said they had not planned to open a brick-and-mortar business, but the ever-increasing demand convinced them to make a go of it.
“We couldn’t meet the demand and it was like — you feel like you’re letting people down in a way,” Danielle Perera said.
So, the pair started looking for a place to set up shop and ended up signing their lease on March 30. Then, they decided to raise funds through a Kickstarter campaign.
“We said, ‘OK let’s just try to raise $10,000.′ It’ll give us, you know, money to like to buy to the sign and buy a fridge and maybe do some pretty paint,” Danielle Perera said.
They ended up hitting that goal within three hours and by the end of the month, the couple had raised nearly $23,000.
“With that additional money, we were able to kind of actually make the shop aesthetically pleasing,” Danielle Perera said. “We would have left it ugly because we didn’t have the money to paint and do all these things.”
Right now, Jeff’s Bagel Run is just a two-person operation. Danielle Perera quit her job a couple weeks ago to help her husband run the shop full-time. Jeff Perera gets to the shop at 5 a.m. to start baking bagels while Danielle Perera gets their two kids, a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old, situated for the day.
“Jeff will kind of run the mornings and I’ll get here, probably around 9 (a.m.) you know after everyone is settled and help,” Danielle Perera said. “The shop will close around 1 (p.m.) usually, and then Jeff will be here, rolling bagels for the next day. At some point, I go pick the kids up from camp or school, or my in-laws. It’s kind of a little bit of a process.”
Jeff’s Bagel Run is open 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. They offer plain, everything, asiago, asiago everything, cinnamon raisin, salt, cacio e pepe (romano cheese and cracked black pepper), sesame, onion, garlic, poppy and rosemary/salt bagels.