Taste Radio Episode 208

Bantam Bagels: Nick & Elyse Oleksak


Bagels and cream cheese is a classic pairing. Bantam Bagels co-founders Nick and Elyse Oleksek created an innovative way for folks to skip the prep work: a mini ball-shaped bagel filled with the traditional accoutrement. 

Launched as a retail concept in 2013, Bantam Bagels has since evolved into a sprawling platform brand that includes mini stuffed pancakes and egg bites. The products are sold at major retailers, including Safeway, Target and Costco, and are also available in Starbucks pastry cases nationwide.

Despite selling their company to Lancaster Colony subsidiary T. Marzetti for $34 million in October 2018. the Oleksaks remain at the helm of day-to-day operations and say their passion and commitment to the brand is as strong as ever.

In an interview included in this episode, the Olekseks spoke about their transition from Wall Street analysts to bagel entrepreneurs, the role that the TV pitch competition “Shark Tank” had on the brand’s genesis and its development, how they assessed opportunities to scale the brand and why they said “yes” to everything. They also explained why cold-emailing works and how to do it effectively, why investing in PR has been crucial to the brand’s success and why the timing was right to sell the company. 

In this Episode

0:44: Nick & Elyse Oleksak, Co-Founders, Bantam Bagels — The Oleksaks spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif and offered an eye-popping estimate of how many mini bagels they’ve produced over the years, discussed the notion that entrepreneurs only work for themselves, how they validated the concept and why scaling beyond their home market of New York City required a significant investment in marketing and PR. They also discussed their process for finding a co-manufacturer, how QVC became Bantam Bagels first wholesale partner, why “fake it till you make it” doesn’t hold water “unless you deliver on what you’re promising,” the remarkable story about how they initially connected with a Starbucks buyer and how they proved their value and commitment to the coffee giant. Later, the Oleksaks explained why they have no regrets about selling 25% of the company to “Shark Tank” judge Lori Greiner and how they identified T. Marzetti as the right acquisition partner.

Also Mentioned

Bantam Bagels