By Lauren LeDoux, Maui Sales Director
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa who had just started her small business, Westside Bagel, this last October with her partner, Scott. This tiny, bubbly blonde is from the East coast with an undergrad in psychology. She’s also a licensed realtor, though not practicing. Despite those credentials, she always found herself coming back to the food and beverage industry, and after meeting her, youʻll be glad she did. She’s a ray of sunshine that will instantly befriend you and make you want to come back for more conversation. Then you’ll try one of their bagels, and you’ll be going back for both!
I asked Melissa, “Why bagels?”
She looked at me with a sad face and said, “We missed authentic bagels and we weren’t finding any here. We’re from the East Coast. They don’t get better than that. Scott is a chef and he decided we would just make our own. So, in our tiny little kitchen, we made our first bagel! From there, we knew we wanted to bring this kind of delicious authenticity to Maui.”
Scott and Melissa’s next mission was to find a commercial kitchen to bake out of, which they found at Sale Pepe. They would make their bagels there and sell them at the swap meet and would even do a makeshift little kitchen under a pop-up tent and sell them at the Maui Gift & Craft Fair in Lahaina. The success and demand they had there led them to their current location, in the quaint little shopping center of Lahaina Square.
When they found their brick and mortar, they went all in. Melissa and Scott both quit their jobs and put everything they had into Westside Bagel. They remodeled the shop themselves, made their own furniture and worked from morning till night—and they still do. They use the most traditional methods to cook their bagels which includes boiling them in a molasses-like liquid that gives the bagels their brownish exterior color.
(By the way, have you ever witnessed the bagel-making process? Holy moly it is a BIG process! When you head over to Westside Bagel, see if Melissa or Scott will walk you through how they make these scrumptious balls of dough).
I asked Melissa who ran the show over there and of course, she does. Scott is the chef and artist; Melissa is all business and brains. As I was wrapping up my conversation with Melissa, she said something that stuck with me: she said “No one really tells you how many hats you’ll wear as a business owner. I’m not just running numbers all day; I’m also a barista, a cashier, a manager, a cook, a dishwasher, customer service, and the list just goes on.” Starting a successful business on Maui is not for the faint of heart but with tenacity like Melissa’s, you can make any dream come true.
Make sure you head over to this little hidden gem and try everything on the menu. While you’re there, try their most popular bagel, the “everything bagel”; it pairs nicely with their cup of Joe, made only from local beans.