It really should not have been a surprise to anyone when Maria’s Bagels opened in downtown Barre last October and received instant success from customers and the administration of other fellow Barre businesses – not when you take into account the hard work and determination of owner, Dustin Poitras and staff.
But here’s what is surprising:
First, Maria’s Bagels is not named after Dustin’s mother or grandmother but rather his 7-year-old daughter, who despite her youthfulness, watches over every detail of the product named for her (when she is not in school).
Second, Maria’s Bagels is a big wholesaler of bagels to local schools, institutions, restaurants and other outlets.
“Our 2.3 oz mini-bagel (51% whole wheat) is very important and popular to K-8 school programs,” notes Poitras.
The wholesale side started two years ago.
Third, Maria’s Bagels is a “free-flow honest environment,” where the customer is not always right but their input is always welcomed in Marias’s Bagels.
Fourth, Maria’s Bagels and sandwiches use fresh local products whenever possible.
“Vermont products are just too good not to be using them,” says Poitras, pointing to Hans cream cheese from Franklin County and even Vermont Coffee Company and Speeder & Earl’s coffee products from Middlebury and Burlington, respectively.
Fifth, Maria’s Bagels uses only natural ingredients and are vegan-free (without the cream cheese or cheese or meat made into them).
“Our bagels are boiled to perfection and low in sugar. Our mini-bagel only has 157 calories,” explains Poitras.
Sixth, Maria’s Bagels has recipes for over 35 bagel flavors but only sells six to eight per day.
“Some were made by accident but were well received and we’re keeping them for future use,” admits Poitras.
The list of surprises could go on and on but the only other really noteworthy/unexpected feature at Maria’s Bagels is that Poitras, who grew up in Barre and even worked at Central Market during high school, always wanted to have a business in the downtown, and hit upon “the bagel” as his payback to the community and without help from any banks who “didn’t believe there was enough traffic to support it.”
“I remember how great it was to have Sammy’s Bagels here in downtown Barre and I have the same passion for bagels. In fact, I want Barre to be a huge destination place for bagels. I dream bagels in bulk,” relates Poitras.
His business plan took six months to complete but his years of experience at Washington County Mental Health Services gave Poitras opportunities to “ask the right questions.”
“Everybody thought I was a goof for doing this in downtown Barre,” Poitras said. “But it was my childhood dream and my kickstarter opening proved me right!”
Even though Poitras must get up weekdays at 2:15 a.m. and weekends at 4:30 a.m. to get the bagel operation underway, he still admits “It’s been fun, very cool, to be an entrepreneur.”
Poitras studied Entrepreneurship at Lyndon State College.
Maria’s Bagels’ success is also attributable to super staff member Pete Surridge, who has learned great culinary skills at several local restaurants and is credited with the fine soups and sandwiches offerings, besides taking care of the bagel orders.
Whatever your bagel orders might be from just plain, whole wheat, everything, cinnamon-sugar, garlic, onion, herbs, sea salt, Asiago cheese, Maria’s Bagels makes the best, believes Poitras.
One of Maria’s Bagels favorite sandwiches is the traditional smoked salmon with lox and capers and red onions with chive cream cheese, which is very popular in New York and Philadelphia areas. They also carry Taylor Pork Roll, a popular ham in the New Jersey area.
Cream cheese choices beyond the usual plain, veggie or strawberry are honey (the store’s favorite), maple walnut and the very popular “Gates to Hell” (from Bradford).
Maria’s Bagels also promotes its own bagel chips which are great for parties or just by themselves with dips and spreads.
You will also see more breads and pastries at Maria’s Bagels. Barre’s own Graze and Gaze Farm frozen meat products will also be there.
Store hours are Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Located at 162 N. Main Street next to Next Chapter Bookstore, Maria’s Bagels is also reachable by phone at 622-8100, and by internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
An exciting new website will be ready soon.