Sacked from job in 2019, Florida man creates 'Jeff's Bagel Run' chain
ORLANDO, Fla. - In 2019, Jeff Perera would never have imagined that he would be preparing fresh hot bagels for hungry customers. But then again, he didn’t expect to lose his job late that year either.
"I was a manager of a senior living company and lost my job in August. It was a shock," remembers Jeff.
Jeff’s wife, Danielle, went back to work, and Jeff became a stay-at-home dad, but not for long.
"She challenged me to bake a bagel," laughs Jeff.
"Well, partially to keep him busy. Because I was worried that he would have a hard transition being a stay-at-home dad. But also, I'm obsessed with bagels. I'm from New York and always was looking for the best bagel," says Danielle.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, the world shut down, and Jeff began to sell his new bagels out of the house through social media.
"It was a wild time. There was lots of orders coming through. People were very excited to get bagels delivered to their house," recalls Jeff.
Customers clamored for his tasty circles, so much so that a brick-and-mortar became necessary. Jeff opened an Ocoee location of Jeff's Bagel Run, and soon thereafter, a College Park store. Now, he is pumping out a product at a feverish pace – 70 dozen each morning with typically 13 varieties available.
"So they're delicious at any temperature, but the hot bagel is definitely a differentiator. There's not very many places where you get a hot bagel. It's just such a unique experience," says Jeff proudly.
But one particular customer got a taste of them and just had to partner up. Enter Justin Wetherill, founder of uBreakiFix, the cell phone repair business.
"Similar story. [I] started in 2009 in my bedroom and now there's over 700 locations throughout the U.S." says Wetherill. "The products [sold by Jeff's Bagel Run] are awesome, and the people are even better. And you know, like a few times in life you come across the opportunity to get involved with a great product and great people, and I'm really looking forward to working with them and growing as big as we can."
Through Justin’s help, Jeff and Danielle will be expanding into five new locations locally, and eventually nationwide. The next place in Central Florida to open will be O-Town West in southwest Orlando. Not too shabby for a man laid off not even 48 months ago.
So what is Perera's advice for anyone in a similar boat?
"I think you just have to do it. I think that's the advice that I give everyone who's like,'I wish I had… I just want to just take the first step and do it!' You're going to make mistakes. That's okay. You learn from that," says Jeff.