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Big Apple Bagels gets new life in Columbus

September 30, 2018

Columbus will be getting a blast from the past in the near future when Big Apple Bagels returns to town for the first time in a decade.

The bakery-café franchise restaurant will set up shop in the 13,000-square-foot Parkway Plaza, the building presently under construction at 4471 41st Ave., right off of Lost Creek Parkway. The building itself and Big Apple Bagels are partnerships between local broker Renee Mueller, her husband, Tyler, as well as businessman Jeff Thiele and his wife, Shirin.

“With the drive-through portion of the building, we always were aiming for some type of coffee or eatery business,” Mueller said. “The demand is there, it’s a great location and it will continue to grow very rapidly, I think. … We just decided we would go ahead and jump on it and go from there. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Big Apple offers a variety of bagels, muffins and other pastries, as well as specialty drinks, including coffee and smoothies. The Midwest-based company has franchises all over the region and bills itself as offering “always made-from-scratch, premium baked goods... Bagels, Muffins & More,” on its website.

“It just seemed like a lot of people had a lot of interest in that,” Jeff Thiele said. “My wife really liked it when it was here. We felt like Big Apple Bagels was a really good fit for Columbus and that Columbus was very supportive of it and wanted it back.”

Big Apple Bagels was operated in town originally at 2320 23rd St. for several years up until October 2007, when Walgreens purchased the corner where the restaurant was located.

“It was a great business; a good steady business,” said Jeff Gokie, who owned the Big Apple location in Columbus and Grand Island at the time but is not affiliated with the group bringing it back to Columbus.

Gokie said he and his wife, who owned the locations together, entertained the idea of relocating the shop at the time. But, he said, it just didn’t work out.

Big Apple’s pending return to Columbus is something he said he’ll support though he isn’t involved with it.

“I’m really happy someone is bringing it back into town,” he said. “It fills a niche that we stopped. I’m really excited about it, and hopefully, they’ll do really well. It will give us a variety we don’t have right now.”

Plenty of research and talking with community members about what to bring to town was done by the owners, according to Mueller, who noted she’s on a mission to help her hometown thrive.

“I want to see Columbus flourish and grow and this is part of that. So it just made sense to have Big Apple Bagels come back,” she said, adding the owners won’t work in the restaurant but will hire a yet-to-be-determined number of employees to run it.

Mueller said owners were approached by quite a few people who brought up different franchises, but in the end, the group felt Big Apple had the most appeal. That made it an easy decision.

“We looked at other franchises, but this is something folks here are familiar with, the demographics are here for it …,” she said, adding the company’s training program for employees and menu items also played a part in their choice. “There’s a lot of opportunity for this franchise. I think it will drive traffic out in that direction, which is great.”

Thiele agreed.

“We felt Big Apple Bagels was really a good fit for Columbus. Columbus was very supportive of it and wanted it back,” he said. “And the franchise owners are very good people to work with.”

The café and the Parkway Plaza building aren’t the first time the Muellers and Thieles have partnered. They also co-own property on the southwest end of town.

“Renee is a very prominent broker in Columbus and we always had a good working relationship on projects,” said Thiele, who also owns Boulevard Lanes in Columbus. “So we’ve done business with Renee in the past and we had this land available. It was just something that kind of came about.”

Big Apple won’t be lonely in the building that is being developed by B-D Construction Inc. Mueller’s Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Premier Real Estate is also making the jump there, as previously reported by The Columbus Telegram. Mueller said she hopes the real estate business can move into its second-level digs by the end of the year and that the restaurant can follow soon after.

The move will bring to an end quite a busy year for Mueller, who for the fifth consecutive time this year was named “Best Realtor” by readers of The Columbus Telegram in its annual Best of Columbus awards. It also comes on the heels of her office becoming affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. It’s under the umbrella of Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational holding company run by chairman/CEO Warren Buffett. Mueller has partnered with Jeff Reed, a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices realtor out of Grand Island, and said the two have plans to open more offices in Nebraska in the future.

As for Parkway Plaza, Mueller said she and the other owners are working diligently to fill the remaining couple of office spaces available as construction progresses. Applied Connective Technologies is also planning to move into the building, according to Mueller.

“It’s definitely a work in progress,” she said. “We’re aiming to get it filled … I’m excited.”

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.

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