New bagel place to open in old donut shop

Long-time bagel baker opens his own place

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

Bagels have been a big part of Steve Durgin’s life.

The Williston resident has cooked them, served them and helped set up restaurants that sell them. Now he’s going to open his own bagel place.

Bagels Plus will be located in Taft Corners Shopping Center, taking the space where Koval’s Coffee, a long-running coffee shop, operated before closing in 2005. The new restaurant is tentatively scheduled to open in May.

Durgin said his eatery will combine a bagel bakery and a cafe. It will have the capacity to produce thousands of New York-style bagels a day and a menu diverse enough to tempt customers to stay a while.

He hopes to attract both patrons who want to grab a quick dozen bagels and those seeking a sit-down meal.

“It’s going to be a friendly atmosphere where you can bring your family and sit down and have a breakfast or a lunch,” Durgin said. “Also, if a person wants to come in and buy four or five dozen bagels and bring them to work, we’ll be set up for that.”

The menu will offer several flavors of bagels topped with many kinds of cream cheese. Other offerings will include muffins, sandwiches and soups. Salads will be served seasonally. A children’s menu will be available.

Bagels Plus will have seating for 23 customers. Customers will order and pay for their food at a cafeteria-style counter.

Durgin, 41, has been in the bagel business most of his adult life. He started in 1983 right after graduating high school, working at GT Bagel Factory across from St. Michael’s College. When the Bagel Factory’s partners split four years later, he went to work for one of them in a Stowe bagel shop.

In 1994, Durgin got a job with Burlington-based Brueggers. He worked in the corporate office, and traveled around the country to help open more than 150 new bagel outlets.

He continued to work for Brueggers until 2000 when he started an auto detailing company. But over the past few years he also kept his hand in the bagel business, working at the Bagel Market on Susie Wilson Road in Essex.

Durgin, however, had long dreamed of owning his own place.

“I was at a point in my life where I wanted to try to do this on my own,” he said. “What I explained to my boss is I didn’t want to be 60 years old and look back and say, ‘What if this would have worked?’”

Koval’s attracted a loyal group of customers during its 19 years of operation. Patrons sometimes lingered for hours, sipping coffee and chatting.

Durgin said his place will have its own atmosphere, but he would like the old restaurant’s patrons to return.

“I’m hoping to get them back,” he said. “If they want to sit there and have coffee and have something to eat and do some work and plan what they want to do for the day, by all means. I’m still going to have the people coming in and getting breakfast and taking off. On the weekends, I’ll probably have more families.”

Bagels Plus will be open seven days a week. Hours will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Durgin may adjust hours to meet demand.

He will spend the rest of this month and the next readying the restaurant. He plans to open by mid-May.

The new business represents a big leap for Durgin, who has worked for others for more than 20 years. But he figures it is the right kind of eatery to fill a gap in Williston’s ever-growing menu of restaurants.

“It’s a big step. It’s a scary step,” he said. “But I’m looking at the big picture and saying there are no bagel places in Williston.”