Danny Farbman did not imagine his family’s bagel shop would expand as much as it has when it first opened 20 years ago.
Alongside his father and brothers, they opened What a Bagel! in Toronto in 1997. Offering oven-fresh bagels, pastries and catering, the franchise has grown to 12 locations in the GTA, with another coming to the East Gwillimbury Newmarket border early next year.
“Twenty-six years ago, we decided to open a retail location without any experience, and it’s been an amazing growth and learning curve since,” Farbman said.
Farbman, head of franchise development, said they have had many requests in recent years to open a store in the Newmarket area and opted for the Yonge Street and Green Lane plaza when space became available.
“After surviving COVID, we were ready to start our new franchise expansion and open up new locations,” he said. “Newmarket was our first choice … All the demographics and growth in that neighbourhood suited us perfectly. It just seems like a great fit for our business.”
The franchise also plans to open locations in Barrie and another in Toronto.
“It’s very exciting,” Farbman said. “It’s a lot of hard work. We realize what really works in our business during COVID … now we’re pumped and ready to expand all over the GTA.”
Baking is done on site at each franchise location, which includes a retail bakery section where customers can select their own bagels from wire bins, filling a paper bag if they desire, as well as loaves of bread, sweet and savoury baked goods, and classic accompaniments like cream cheese and pickled herring. You can dine in-store, too, with an array of beverages, platters, sandwiches and salads among the offerings.
The company has put up signage at the future local location but is still seeking a franchise owner. But the presence of the sign has got some attention on social media.
“So exciting,” one resident said on social media. “It will be a very nice addition to the area!”
Farbman said area residents have inundated his email inbox asking about the opening of the site, as his email address is included on the storefront sign.
“There’s a lot of buzz,” he said. “It feels good and helps justify the fact we made the right decision on the location.”
What A Bagel! plans to start construction on the site beginning in October, toward an opening in early 2024, when it will offer free bagels for opening day.
“Our hope is that we serve the community, produce great products, put our heart and soul into everything we do.”
The new location will be at the 18293 Yonge St. Plaza, near Green Lane.