CAMDEN — The Bagel Café looks to revitalize a Camden staple by providing a fresh, homemade, local and community oriented experience.
Mark Senders and Becky Neves bought the business and took control overnight two weeks ago.
"We didn't close. We signed Friday and it was us on Saturday," said Senders.
The husband and wife team said they want to provide the fresh and accessible food that has characterized the Bagel Café for so long.
"We love Camden. We both grew up here and now live here and have started a family. Now we're taking over a business that we went to when we were kids," said Neves.
The takeover has been a full-circle experience for Senders as a chef, as well.
After 15 years as a chef in the Midcoast, Senders is returning to the skill-set he learned at the New England Culinary Institute, where he graduated in 2000.
He said he is trying to master the bagel and that the flavor has steadily improved. He says customer feedback is essential and has been overwhelmingly positive.
"People are liking them," he said.
Senders said the Bagel Café is set apart by being a true bakery in downtown Camden, with a business based around the New York style bagels. He wants to keep a lot of the core things the same but add a bit of variety with new bagel flavors, a wider variety of baked goods and new items such as soft pretzels, house-made pickles and bagel-wrapped hot dogs.
Neves said that ingredient selection is important to the duo. They carefully source vegetables and proteins to use fresh and local ingredients. Just about everything sold from the bakery is made in-house, and standing by the product is important to both owners.
Senders said he wants to make other changes, including opening earlier and expanding wholesale bagel sales to other businesses throughout the Midcoast. Beyond such slight changes he wants to keep most things the same and respond to the community.
"We want to improve the quality and meet our standards and then just see where it goes," said Senders.
Quality is only half the goal. The pair are also aiming at an unpretentious atmosphere. Neves said she wants the Bagel Café to be a space for people to come out for good food and good coffee.
"From little kids to grandparents, where a 14-year-old can buy lunch for his or her dad. A place that won't deter anyone from coming in."
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