Local shop bucks trend: Feldman’s Bagels replaces Bruegger’s


Stories of business turnovers often involve a big national company edging out the small local shop.

But the opposite is happening on Shelburne Road.

After more than 12 years in business in the Shelburne Bay Plaza strip mall, Bruegger’s Bagels quietly closed its bakery at the end of January.

The spot between a copy shop and a pub went dark briefly. Then signs popped up in the windows displaying a name long synonymous with bagels in Burlington’s South End: Feldman’s.

Sure enough, the new owners of the local bagel operation are preparing to open their third store, aiming for March 4.   

Commercial real estate broker Kim Wichert of Pomerleau Real Estate, which owns the space, handles the tenants for the property. He said replacing Bruegger’s was easy.

“It happened very quickly,” Wichert said. “I made one phone call.”

For Feldman’s owners Patti and Bob Leonard, the decision was a no-brainer. The couple already runs bagel restaurants on Pine Street and in St. Albans, having bought the longtime Burlington operation from founder Roy Feldman and his family in February 2017. They took over the Burlington shop first, and added the St. Albans store last August.   

Wichert said he has worked with the Leonards at both of their other locations. Their business was a good fit for the Shelburne Road vacancy, he said, where the other tenants including a meat market, dry cleaner, and hair salon, are local businesses as well.

Opening another along a high-traffic corridor where people have been buying bagels for over a decade made sense.

“This was a great opportunity,” Patti Leonard said.

The Leonards, who live in South Burlington, run their operation much in the tradition Roy Feldman started in 1979 with handmade bagels baked in each kitchen daily. Bob Leonard mixes and bakes many days in one of the kitchens, while Patti focuses on the business office details. 

The menu at the Shelburne store will mirror the other locations pretty closely, Patti Leonard said. It will include espresso drinks, which Bruegger’s did not have previously. In addition to New York-style bagels and homemade cream cheese flavors, it will include soups and salads. Smoothies also will be on the Shelburne menu – something new Patti said they wanted to try.

“We heard there was a bit of a demand for that here,” she said.

Similar to the other locations, the Shelburne store will employ about 10 full- and part-time employees combined, Leonard said. The company has hired a general manager to oversee operations in all three.

As in the other Feldman’s stores, Leonard said she plans to arrange for local artists to display their work with exhibits changing monthly. The first featured artist will be Kathleen Grant, a Shelburne painter, jewelry maker and art teacher.

The practice gives artists exposure to the public and it brightens the dining room space. It also connects the business with the community. “We want to keep it local,” Leonard said.

The arrangement is free for the artists who are welcome to offer their pieces for sale. Anyone interested in having their work on display should contact Leonard.

Last week, workers were replacing some tiles in the kitchen in the Shelburne space. The walls had a fresh coat of paint and Leonard was expecting the new exterior signs to be delivered and installed soon. Temporary banners hung in the windows as passersby peered inside where chairs rested upside-down on tables.

“We get this every day,” Leonard said. “People are curious.”

Once open, there will be 50 seats for customers and wi-fi access, Leonard said.

Founded in Troy, N.Y., in 1983, Bruegger’s Enterprises is based in Dallas and is a subsidiary of the JAB Holding Company in Luxembourg. The company recently scaled back closing some stores although it still operates some 250 locations across the U.S.

The company has just one Vermont store left in Brattleboro. Bruegger’s spokeswoman Sara Hundley said the Shelburne store opened June 1, 2006.

Feldman’s plans to open in Shelburne on March 4. Hours will be 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday; Sundays 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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