• Company
    Good Bagels Café
  • Owner
    Alex LaLonde and Nick LaLonde
  • Location
    Anacortes, WA
  • Website

Good Bagels Café named SBA Seattle Rural Small Business of the Year

ANACORTES, Wash.—When Alex LaLonde moved to Anacortes about six years ago to work as a kayak guide and instructor, about the only unchecked box on his adopted hometown wish list was somewhere to buy a fresh, delicious bagel.

In January 2023, Alex and his brother, Nick, were able to check that box when they opened the Good Bagels Café along the main drag of town.

The café is a testament to their persistence and patience, the latest milestone for their COVID baby, an idea birthed during the early days of the lockdown. When other people turned to sourdough, the LaLonde brothers started boiling and baking bagels.

This month Alex and Nick were named the 2024 SBA Seattle District Rural Small Business of the Year.

“The Café was always a part of the bagel dream, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our SBDC advisor,” Alex said.

The LaLondes were nominated for the honor by Kristina Hines, a business advisor with the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) whom they’ve been working with since 2021.

Alex LaLonde and Nick LaLonde, co-owners (l-r)

“I am so proud of the work they have done,” Hines said. “From the very beginning, Nick and Alex were committed to their vision of opening a bagel café in Anacortes. With Nick’s experience as an executive chef and Alex’s entrepreneurial experience, they became a powerhouse. They listened intently, acted with purpose, and focused on slow and steady growth to bring their dream to fruition.”

The Washington SBDC is a network of more than 40 business advisors and three international trade specialists who provide one-on-one assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to start, grow or buy/sell a business. SBDC services are funded by the SBA in partnership with state and local agencies or institutions, including institutions of higher education, economic development agencies and civic and business groups. Washington State University is the statewide host of the Washington SBDC.

When COVID hit in 2020, Alex, who by this time owned Body Boat Blade, a kayak school and rental business, had time on his hands, so he tried his hand at bagels. When his brother Nick, a professional chef, came to visit that summer they served homemade bagels at a July 4th fireworks party, to rave reviews. Alex remembers thinking, “Okay, I think maybe we are on to something.”

When Nick returned to his home to California, Alex continued boiling and baking bagels, and friends, and then friends of friends, starting placing orders. Nick worked on their business plan and tweaking the recipe until it was just right.

In January 2021, Nick relocated from Sacramento, Calif., to Anacortes, and the two brothers continued testing and refining their recipes. Their goal was to use local ingredients like Skagit Valley flour and make an Anacortes bagel, but with a New York influence.

Over the next 18 months, they progressed from selling bagels out of their home, to selling 1,000 bagels a week through a commercial kitchen, to selling bagels and sandwiches from a specially outfitted food truck, to finally opening their own café.

According to Alex, Nick’s experience as a general manager and executive chef was incredibly valuable when they started putting together their business plan. “Without his experience it would have taken us a lot longer to figure things out,” he said.

When they first contacted the SBDC for assistance, it was kind of a shot in the dark, Alex said. They knew they needed help, but they weren’t really sure where to start or what to ask for. From the get-go, Alex said, Hines was both enthusiastic and focused. “I don’t think we expected [SBDC advising] to be as good as it was,” he said. “Kristina really helped us refine our business plan and put together financial proposals.”

The LaLonde brothers are also quick to voice appreciation for their adopted hometown. “We wouldn’t have been as successful as we are now with the support of our community,” Alex said. “Around every corner we had community members there ready and willing to support us.”

And in turn, the Good Bagels Café supports community events and organizations whenever it can. “We are happy to give what we are able to give,” Alex said. Over the past year they’ve gifted bagels or Good Bagel gift certificates to a variety of organizations, including the Anacortes Education Foundation, Anacortes Pride, and numerous sports teams.

“We feel incredibly honored to have received Rural Small Business of the year. We are so proud of this thing we’ve created and the joy it’s brought to our community,” Alex said. “We cannot express enough gratitude for the amazing bagel lovers in our community, for the SBA and the SBDC, and for our family who has supported us through the realization of this dream. Thank you all!”

The Good Bagels Café is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. For more about the Good Bagels Café, click here.

For more about the Washington SBDC, click here.