Bagel Café closes; owner weighing spring return

Belfast branch takes back seat to Camden Snow Bowl venture
By Ethan Andrews | Dec 06, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Bagel Café, pictured Dec. 5, the day after it closed for the winter, and possibly longer.

Belfast — Bagel Café closed Dec. 4 with a sign on the door advertising plans to reopen in March. But whether that happens remains to be seen, according to co-owner Mark Senders.

The restaurant is affiliated with Camden Bagel Café, which Senders bought with Rebecca Neves in 2014. They opened the Belfast branch at 159 High St. in June 2016.

Senders said the Belfast restaurant did well in the warm months but struggled in the winter. The satellite restaurant relied on deliveries of fresh bagels from Camden, which added a layer of uncertainty in the cold months.

"Any bit of snow on the ground, I don't open it," he said. "I learned that the hard way by trying to keep it open last winter."

Last winter he closed for a month. His decision to put the Belfast business on hold this winter coincides with Camden Bagel Café recently winning the contract to provide concessions at the Camden Snow Bowl ski area.

"It's a matter of having the staff to do both," he said. "The logistics of it all seem a bit much to be doing food in three locations."

Belfast Bagel Café had three employees when it closed this week. Senders said two of them will continue working for the company, either at the Camden shop or the Snow Bowl, Senders said. The third worker was offered a position but did not want to commute to Camden, he said.

Senders has big plans for the Snow Bowl concession, which he said is overdue for a change. He and Neves won the contract in October from a pool of four applicants in the first open bid process in seven years.

"I'm hoping to expand the hours and bring a lot more food and attractions to the mountain and focus on making it really a four-season establishment," he said.

The Snow Bowl is typically open from mid-December through mid-March. Senders said the first year will probably factor in the fate of Belfast Bagel Café, though he was hesitant to say how.

A good year at the Snow Bowl might make a few slow months in Belfast feel less tenuous, he said. By the same token, he said, it might make more sense to focus on the business that's doing well.

"I have a chance to be part of (the Snow Bowl) and help make changes for the better in the community," he said. "I jumped at it."

If the Belfast Bagel Café doesn't reopen in March, Senders said he still would want to keep a presence in Belfast, which might mean selling his bagels through another business here.

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