Four years ago Carolyn Doyle wanted a bagel in Fernie and couldn’t get one. So she decided to make her own.
She started Big Bang Bagels in her own kitchen, making bagels to sell at the farmer’s market.
“We thought there was a need for bagels here and we thought that they would work here,” said Doyle.
She would make 300 bagels on a Saturday morning and head for the farmer’s market. Within two hours Doyle would sell out completely.
As a baking-enthusiast, Doyle said that she remembered making bagels before, but never at that scale.
Growing up in Ottawa, she was surrounded with a lot more bagel shops and a lot more bagel culture.
“There are a few shops that have been there forever, and they are open for 24 hours,” said Doyle. “It is a cultural thing in Ottawa, you go and get the fresh ones, which are the best.”
The bagels in Ottawa are a Montreal-style bagel, which Doyle said is different from what they do now at Big Bang Bagels. She makes what she calls a softer, “Fernie style” bagel.
“It works here,” says Doyle about the Fernie-style bagels. “If you come in looking for a Montreal-style bagel, you may not like ours, but we’re lucky that most people have embraced what we do.”
The Fernie-style bagels are boiled in water with a bit of honey.
“It gives them a bit of a glaze and helps them rise,” said Doyle.
In November 2008, Big Bang Bagels opened a shop, sharing with Just Pizza. Doyle sold take-out breakfast bagels in the morning and bagel sandwiches were delivered to workers all over town, and then they would close in time for Just Pizza to open in the afternoon.
By July 2009, demand for Big Bang Bagels was so high that they opened a permanent location on Second Avenue in the old P. Burns and Co. building.
“We were way busier than we expected,” said Doyle about Big Bang’s first week in their permanent home. “We knew we’d be busy, but we didn’t think it would be like that.”
The staff at Big Bang Bagels sells between 200-400 bagels a day, and often sells out of their more popular flavours, like the cinnamon raisin..
Last year, Doyle was approached by the Fernie Alpine Resort to open a lunch spot for skiers and snowboarders at the ski hill.
She said that the two locations have allowed for some income stability for the business.
“When there’s lots of snow and people are up at the ski hill, the location up there is really busy, but when the weather is kind of crappy and people are in town, the downtown location is really busy,” Doyle said.
Even though Big Bang Bagels sees a lot of tourists come through, Doyle is thankful for the locals that, she said, come out of the woodwork when the tourists have gone home.
After four years, Doyle isn’t planning any more big changes.
“I want to perfect what we have here,” said Doyle.
“We are really lucky that Fernie has accepted what we do,” she said, “People are really supportive, we have a lot of regular customers. A lot of it is luck and then some hard work.”
You’d think after four years and hundreds of bagels, Doyle would be sick of bagels.
“I’m a bit traditional and I love sesame, but I also think the cinnamon-raisin we do is really good,” she said. “But I guess I’m lucky to have access to whatever bagel I want, so I don’t really get tired of them.”