Raglan Bagels rises from pandemic

Established in 2020, Raglan Bagels is another success story that has risen out of the global pandemic.

Like many people facing reduced working hours and the potential loss of jobs, Steve Dube decided to reinvent himself and have a crack at the food industry.

Although it’s not quite as straight forward as that – he started accounting studies first – but his love of bagels won out in the career transformation competition. 

Before the first wave of Covid hit New Zealand, Steve had been working as a production manager for Raglan Food Co; he had developed a pretty good understanding of the business but had never been responsible for the actual food making himself.

It was here that Steve started his Raglan Bagel journey, during the first lockdown, with time on his hands and the desire to future-proof his career.

“There were no hours at Raglan Food Co because we couldn’t sell that much; all the cafes were closed. That’s why I started studying accounting because I wanted to do something else different.”

“I got my accounting certificate but I found it kind of boring. I’d been making bagels for a long time and my partner said maybe you can just do bagels, and we’ll see how it goes.”

The very next day Steve began working on his food registration, website and promoting Raglan Bagels on social media.

“Within a week, I had 100 followers on Instagram and they were really keen to have bagels in Raglan.”

The thumbs up from the local Instagram community gave Steve the encouragement he needed to get his paperwork in order and within a month he set up in the tiny shop.

“I did a day in the tiny shop to get a taste of the public’s response and within two hours I had sold out.”

From a first bake of 150 bagels, Steve is now producing 1000 bagels a week out of the Raglan Old School Arts Centre certified kitchen

Steve credits the Raglan community with supporting his business venture.

“When I started a year ago, The Shack was the first café that contacted me on the first day of my Instagram account opening. I’m really grateful for having such a nice community helping other small businesses to grow,” he says.

In August last year, the local Supervalue came on board to help Steve when the lockdown restrictions forced him to temporarily close the tiny shop for bagel business.

“We started with around eight packets (of four bagels) per week at Supervalue and now we sell around 60 packets.”

The bagel recipe Steve uses is one he has developed through many trials in the kitchen and is a hybrid of his favourite New York and Montreal-style bagels.

A Montreal native himself, Steve came to New Zealand 17 years ago; he was following his heart after a woman he had a crush on moved to Raglan. The crush, now partner Dominique Lecourtois, runs design and dressmaking store Lecourtois Couture in Raglan and Steve says she has been behind his bagel endeavours from the beginning.

When he started his small bagel venture, Steve had two varieties – a plain and a sesame. He now has five types of bagels, adding the poppy, cinnamon and raisin and an everything bagel to the mix.

The everything bagel combines two types of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onions and garlic, and Steve says the cinnamon and raisin is popular with Kiwis.

“I wanted to do a sweet bagel because Kiwis have a sweet tooth.”

As well as selling packets of bagels from the tiny shop, you can buy toasted bagels with a variety of toppings.

Get your taste of Raglan Bagels at the tiny shop on Bow St – with the increasing Omicron cases Steve is at the tiny shop on Saturdays only and will be back on Wednesdays as soon as possible. Check him out on Facebook and Instagram @RaglanBagels

By Janine Jacskon

Image credit: Ashley Decaires