It was a combination of the discovery of New York style bagels on a trip to the Big Apple, a love of baking and a Jewish upbringing that led to Martin Frimet’s business idea.
No-one was making this type of bagel here in London at that time, so he set out to perfect the recipe, making bagels for his colleagues at his day job, working for Amazon.
Martin took his bagels to his first market in 2018, and their popularity has grown from there, as people show their appreciation for the delicious breads at the regular market slots. “New York style bagels are bigger than traditional ones with a more malty flavour , due to the malt and sugar they use in the baking process: they are chewier on the inside with a crispy outside.”
“I knew that I didn’t want to stay working in marketing and project management in a corporate business forever, and I enjoyed baking bagels at home, so when I was offered redundancy, it was the push I needed to take a different path.”
“I always enjoyed making sandwiches when I was younger, experimenting with different flavours and combinations of fillings and this passion for tasty food continued as I got older,” said Martin. “I had no business plan developed, it just simply felt right for me at that time to start selling my bagels at markets and the feedback from customers seemed to agree.” Martin was building his catering experience by working as a chef in a café which also meant that he had an income to develop his business idea.
However, not one to be beaten, Martin has used the time during lockdown to dedicate more time to his business structure and as part of this he participated in a Building Business Resilience online workshop organised by Outset Waltham Forest. “The workshop helped me in terms of understanding the basic principles of sales and marketing timeand who my customers are. It made me think about what my goals were and what the customer journey was. The examples given, and the exercises were really helpful and made me stop and consider the processes involved in my own business which I have never had time to do before.”
Martin has spent time going through the things he learnt on the workshop and putting them into practice in preparation for opening again. He now organises his time differently, taking some time each week to spend on continuing to develop the lessons he learnt. “A big change for me is that I now think more about the long-term and I spend time planning my time more effectively, which has made a real difference. I now have a target in mind when I plan and create campaigns to help me reach it.”
Throughout the summer of 2019, Martin continued with his markets and then in March 2020, he took over a kitchen in a café and moved his business there. Unfortunately, that was when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country and people went into lockdown, closing the café.
Martin comments that it is a tough time to be in the catering business at the moment, due to the pandemic: the subsequent reduction in footfall with many employees working at home and the practical issues around maintaining social distancing in a relatively small space.
“The workshop helped me to reframe my business and I am working with some friends who are non-executive directors, to develop plans to obtain a bigger premises and maybe expand to additional cafes, but I definitely do not want to become a nameless chain.”
He explains that the name Unholy Bagels reflects the slightly quirky personality which the brand embodies and this character shines through the Instagram posts which demonstrate the range of humorously named fillings he produces. Martin also admits that name did reflect the initial period when he started to bake the bagels where he struggled to create the infamous holes in the middle. “Initially a friend helped me with the social media posts, but this is a skill I am developing.”
“The workshop helped me in terms of understanding the basic principles of sales and marketing time and who my customers are. It made me think about what my goals were and what the customer journey was.”
Long term, Martin is keen to develop his cafes as social spaces which can benefit the community in which they operate. His menu is already meat free but doesn’t push this too strongly as a message, “I just want to offer tasty fillings that delight the customer without jumping on the current bandwagon for plant based eating so that it doesn’t even become an issue that people think about,” he explains.
“My friends and I spend time thinking of names for the fillings which bring a smile to people’s faces such as Cinco de Egg Mayo, Peas & Felafel and Alt Beef which features a vegan salt beef.”
Unholy Bagels is now back trading and he is optimistic about the future as people start to return to work and more businesses open on the high street and he states;
“Thanks to the Outset workshop, I definitely know my business better and have a more detailed plan for its growth.”
For more information on Unholy Bagels, visit their Instagram page