Bagel Maven Bounces Back

Living in Cos Cob, Phil Nourie and his wife loved walking to their neighborhood bagel shop on weekends. So they were delighted when — moving to Westport — they discovered Bagel Maven on a weekend stroll.

After their son was born in 2009, owner Alex Perdomo delivered bagels and coffee to their home.

That’s the kind of guy Alex is. And it’s the kind of place Bagel Maven was.

But in mid-September, Alex told Phil that he might have to close. He’d missed a rent payment last winter. He took 4 months to pay back, and his landlord was unwilling to take another risk.

Phil — whose day job is in PR and marketing, with plenty of experience in crisis management — offered to help.

He advised Alex not to disparage the landlord — not that Alex would have. He knew he’d made a mistake, and that commercial real estate is a business too.

Alex Permodo on September 30. Despite closing that day, he managed a smile.

Alex Perdomo on September 30. Despite closing that day, he managed a smile.

Phil suggested Alex give away bagels on his last day. “You don’t know what can happen,” Phil said. “You never want to burn bridges.”

“06880” broke the story on Bagel Maven’s closing. WestportNow and News12 followed up.

Phil created a Facebook page and Twitter account. Strangers emailed, asking how they could help.

The Sunday after he closed, Alex met with Phil and another patron. They talked about the possibility of wholesaling, or finding new space in Westport.

Bagel Maven logoAlex was receptive. But research showed those options were not viable.

Phil suggested Alex talk to his landlord.

The conversation went well. Alex was forthright about his past error, and his current situation. The landlord — who had seen the press stories and social media activity — realized Bagel Maven was not just another shop.

Alex got a new lease. The landlord agreed to pay for painting.

Two patrons offered to pay for renovations. Alex and some friends have already taken apart the floor. The oven will be upgraded, and the interior opened up so customers can see the bagels being made. They’ll smell them, too.

Alex and some friends have already started renovating the interior.

Alex and some friends have begun renovating the interior.

The target date for reopening is November 8.

Phil calls this one of the most gratifying projects he’s worked on.

“It’s a great story about how people can come together, and do more than anyone thought possible,” he says.

“And it’s been done without any sense of outrage. This is a story of reality — of mistakes, and what can come out of them.”

Phil adds, “I got way into this — far more than I thought. But I couldn’t just walk away.”

Soon — thanks to Phil Nourie, and a community-wide effort — all of us can walk back into Bagel Maven.

15 responses to “Bagel Maven Bounces Back

  1. stacieace@gmail.com

    Last line needs to say Bagel Maven not Village bagel; although that is where Akex used to work. Thanks for bringing more bagels back to 06880.

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Great followup Dan. It is reassuring to see that Westport isnt just chain stores but a small business can thrive…with some help from good friends. Congrats to the landlord too. He is a mensch.

  3. Armelle Daniels

    Great story. Proud to be a Westporter!

  4. I’ve seen Westport at its worst when some in the community got pretty confrontational about rational ideas – Intercommunity Camp, the Compo Beach Playground, senior housing proposals. But here’s Westport at its creative best – I do miss the furor and the fervor!

  5. Dan what a great follow up to a very sad story! Small business being pressured by the rising costs of real estate in Westport! It is nice to hear that there are loyal and giving people who want to help – hats off to the landlord and those who helped make this happen!!!

  6. Wonderful news for Alex and his family! Phil did an outstanding job of advocating for Alex…he shared his skills and talent and became a mentor for a local business man while capturing the spirit of community and one-to-one kindness. Thanks Dan for reporting on the story…your column provides a vital life line to community heart beats!

  7. Alex is such a great person. I am VERY happy this has ended…or is beginning….this way. Once we were in need of some wrappers for a party and happened to be talking with him and before we knew it, he pulled out a full box of his bagel wrappers and gave them to us! AND refused to take any money. It is folks like this that bring and keep loyal friends and patrons. EVERYONE, please go to the new Bagel Maven….and besides they are the BEST bagels in town.

  8. So satisfying to have this community helping out event…congratulations to bagel maven, generosity of spirit is a great thing !

  9. Dan – THANK YOU for following up on Phil’s story with this wonderfully rewarding post! THIS is the Westport that we love to hear about — those far more noble people than the idiot Parking Titans and Divas who grab our collective attention. This is great!

    Congratulations, Phil. Congratulations, Westport!

    Next week, back to our Titans and Divas…

  10. Great story.

  11. Fantastic! Alex is a really nice guy and Bagel Maven is the best place in town for for bagels. Happy to see that they’re coming back.

  12. marvin goldstein

    Great story!! I discovered Bagel Maven about one month before he closed. Enjoyed a weekly lunch there.

    Marv Goldstein

    Sent from my iPhone

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  13. Our Sundays are “Bagel Sundays” We’ve been Bagel Maven patrons since they opened and we will be back. The substitute just hasn’t been the same. Congratulations!

  14. Alex is SO happy to be staying in Westport, thanks to all loyal patrons and the community! Tune into News12CT tonight for Ale’x comeback story!