Business news

Bodega Bagels are on a roll

Posted By:

3rd Nov 2022

Belfast-based bagel shop has used the power of Full Fibre broadband across the Openreach network to grow and operate its successful business

You could be forgiven for thinking ‘why does a bagel business need an ultrafast internet connection?’ A business that initially began from two people working from a small garage two years ago to today operating two permanent shop locations with 14 members of staff, gives the first indication of why.

When Northern Ireland was still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, Steven Orr pursued his passion and set up Bodega Bagels, a New York City-inspired bagel shop in Belfast. Alongside his partner and Bodega co-founder Kirsty Winter, Steve converted his garage into a small bakery and set up his Instagram page and website which were key to getting the word out to customers, receiving orders and the business going.

Speaking about the role technology played in the initial thinking behind Bodega, Steve said: “With no similar businesses to draw inspiration from locally and no way to get on a plane to the USA during Covid, I learnt everything I know about running a bagel shop online. Youtube, Instagram and Reddit played a massive role in giving me the knowledge and tools to take the leap.”

Steve continued, “Through my online search I got in touch with a New York-based influencer @brooklynbagelblog as well as Scott Rossillo, owner of the Brooklyn Bagel shop and renowned for inventing the famous rainbow bagel. Without being able to get in touch with people across the globe in New York City through social media and video calling, Bodega Bagels would never have been as authentic and as close to the real thing as it is today.

Steve added: “From week one we sold out within 20 minutes and even as we increased in capacity, we sold out of bagels every week. That was largely due to the buzz we created on social media – as more people posted pictures of their bagels, we got busier and busier with online orders. We were effectively an online-only business for the first 4 months of trading. Without Full Fibre broadband technology, none of it would have been possible during lockdown.

“I worked in IT as a project manager for the past 10 years so I was well versed in the power of technology, but still had no idea how much I would rely on it when running my own business.”

Now as a 14-strong company with two locations across Belfast, Bodega continues to rely heavily on digital connectivity through future proofed Full Fibre broadband to run the business day to day.

Steve said: “We use a cloud-based rota app for scheduling and driving new customers to our website via Instagram and TikTok and we share online spreadsheets with our accountancy firm for timesheets to run payroll, as well as with our wholesaler suppliers for weekly ordering of inventory. Where possible I want to be able to run every aspect of Bodega from ordering, stock levels, staffing and promotion from my phone. Bodega has been entirely built as an online business that just happens to now be a bricks and mortar bakery.”

At the heart of greater digital connectivity is having robust infrastructure in place that can cope with increasing demands and the continued development of new, data-hungry businesses. Openreach NI is leading the charge in ensuring the region has a future-proof broadband network capable of meeting these demands – now and for decades to come.

It continues to invest in the economic future of Northern Ireland with more than 80 per cent of homes and businesses now able to get its next generation Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband – that’s 4 out of 5 properties.

Speaking about the impact of Ultrafast Full Fibre on local businesses, Openreach NI Director Garret Kavanagh said: “We are delighted to hear about the impact Openreach NI’s build programme has had across local businesses in Northern Ireland. It is fantastic that having access to Full Fibre technology has opened up endless opportunities, even encouraging the set-up of new businesses throughout the most challenging of times during the pandemic.”