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The bagels industry’s innovation continued by Bloomington Bagel Company



Bloomington, Indiana – Sue Aquila, the owner of the Bloomington Bagel Company, declared she had no money on hand on the first day of business. She claimed that she was unable to purchase a toaster.

They turned the open sign and opened the doors that morning. The freshly made bagels gave off steam, and everything was ideal. Katie Weismiller, the first client, entered and asked for a toasted bagel. Weismiller wasn’t buying Aquila’s argument that they don’t toast fresh bread. They have been wed for 25 years at this point.

Even after 27 years, BBC is still Bloomington’s go-to place for bagels. The business may be reached from many various parts of town because to its four locations on North Dunn Street, North Morton Street, South College Avenue, and East Third Street.

Aquila, a native of New York, grew weary of the lack of delicious, freshly cooked bagels in the area. Aquila claimed that she had fantasized of baking fresh bagels due to the fact that many stores only sell steaming bagels that have been brought into town frozen. She then set out on her quest to open her own store.

Aquila founded the first BBC branch in 1996 thanks to a 30-page business plan, some financial and mentoring assistance from a relative, a Bagel Bakers Union instructor who taught her how to cook bagels from scratch, and a storefront off Kirkwood Avenue that was up for lease.

BBC is a company operated by women. The CEO is Dawn Keough, and Aquila is the business’s owner. Together, they claim to have built a loving and accepting community.

“We’re always focused on supporting women, supporting people in the LGBTQ community,” Aquila said. “In the context of supporting all the communities in our community, we try very hard to do that.”

According to Aquila, this distinguishes them from other eateries in the area. Many students who were struggling alone during the COVID-19 pandemic have found refuge at BBC. She claimed that during the epidemic, they built a community for both employees and clients that has lasted.

A large portion of the Bloomington community supports BBC and Aquila in return.

Aquila told the tale of how she came out as gay to a group from Kentucky. The Old Paths Baptist Church group started demonstrating outside the business with bibles in hand. They spent hours preaching against homosexuality while they were there.

Aquila claimed that the neighborhood did not permit her to stand alone.

“I will never forget: there was a female student who was a regular,” Aquila said. “She drove by, leaned her head out the window and yells at them, ‘Not only am I gay, I’m Jewish too,’ and continues driving.”

People from the neighborhood keep returning, she added, and on many Saturdays a line wraps around the building.

In the years since, BBC has grown. The shop introduced a new bagels online ordering facility. Diners may presently sample their brand-new Hot Cheeto bagel, which will be back this weekend due to popular demand.

Even the crushed-up Dorito cream cheese that was tested by a worker at the East Third Street shop will be accessible this weekend.

“That’s the beauty of making everything from scratch,” Aquila said. “We have the ability to try things.”

Aquila expressed her gratitude for having such a large support system around her as she developed and carried out her concepts.

One of them is Dawn Keough, who invented the Hot Cheeto bagel and the “Wake and Bakes” (a hashbrown atop a breakfast sandwich).

Although Keough had always desired to return to law school, the BBC family atmosphere and familiarity had a bigger appeal.

“It’s such a family,” Keough said. “Sue and I always joke that we are each other’s longest relationship.”

Keough described the two’s environment as having the greatest tolerance possible.

“It isn’t just the handmade aspect,” Keough said. “it’s also the personality, the sense of humor, the quirkiness and the offbeat personality. It mixes perfectly.”