We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Hilbert and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Daniel, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started my bagel business during the height of the Covid pandemic – incorporating Dan’s Bagels as an LLC in April 2020. My corporate job at the time was in Event Marketing – developing & executing corporate brand events like sales meetings, product demonstrations, trade shows, etc. The pandemic obviously brought that business to a streaking halt. I was moved to a 3-day working week which gave me time to pursue other endeavors.

For my family, food became the center of gravity during Covid quarantine and having lived in the Northeast & working in NYC for almost 20yrs, my entire family and I were craving a legit NY-style bagel, which we just couldn’t find in our area. So, in my free time, I started to try my hand at making NY-style bagels using classic ingredients, boiling and baking them to finish.

After a couple months and using my friends to taste test (I called them beta-tasters), I landed on a NY-style sourdough bagel that was worthy of its name. I registered my bagel business as a TX cottage business and started offering them online for delivery & pickup. Things started to take off at that point. We knew we had something special when in late 2020, we sold out an entire month’s worth of bagels (about 1000 bagels) in 7 minutes – no joke.

Along the way, nothing really told us to “stop” pursuing this bagel business – it continued in a way that seemed natural. I’ve always wanted to own a small business – thinking it’d be something like a marketing agency – but it turns out, it’s a bagel business. I quit my corporate job and took the leap in March 2021 – and then opened my bagel shop in Trophy Club on August 3, 2021.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We believe our bagel shop is like no other in the DFW area. Why?

First, we boil & bake sourdough bagels – there is nothing plain about our plain bagels. They taste great like any artisan sourdough bread. Sourdough is more easily digestible and results in longer shelf life – we actually have customers who profess to be gluten-free but end up eating our bagels because of the sourdough process.

Second, we’re the closest thing to a gourmet bagel shop – or what is called a bagelry. We are not the cheapest on the block and will never be. We use clean all natural, clean ingredients for our bagel dough – non-bleached, non-bromated, conditioner free flour, yeast, brown sugar, sea salt, water and barley malt syrup. Also, we want to be a “legit” NY-style bagel shop – so we ship in many of our products from the East Coast – premium products plus shipping isn’t cheap but man, the quality rocks. Our smoked salmon flys in from Port Jervis, NY – our Black & White cookies & crumb cake are from Bronx, NY – and we carry classic NY brands like Hal’s NY, Dr. Brown’s Soda, Boar’s Head Deli Meats & Kosher Dill pickles and Taylor Ham from New Jersey.

Third, we were born out of the Covid pandemic. I am proud of that – believing that imperfect times give birth to perfect opportunities. It shows in history with so many successful businesses, small & large, being launched during difficult times like recessions, war time etc.

Was it easy? Like many small business launches, it was not easy especially having never been in the food business. There were several times when my wife and I really thought we made a mistake opening this bagel shop – it was really really really hard. She and I had the products, marketing & real estate savvy in place – but learning the logistics – like tax laws, permit requirements, sourcing suppliers etc. was not automatic. It was hard – and we had to learn it along the way. Also, the hours are rough – in the beginning, my wife and I were putting in 90-100hrs per week – and I guess what was most surprising was how physically challenging the job can be. We move through one ton of flour and 600lbs of cream cheese per week.

Overcoming it not only took grit, but a steadfast belief and commitment that this business would flourish – which has happened in such a short period of time. It also took a strong bond between my wife and me to get through it together – holding each other up physically and mentally during the process. We still are committed to that to this day. Both those ideas that let us overcome our challenges and obstacles may seem obvious – but it really is that simple.

I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t say that I want this business to grow to a multi-million dollar business. But not in a dumb way, but growth based on the product & customer service principles we have utilized today. For example, franchising is an option – but if we go down that path one day, we would require that the franchisee actually work in the shop full time. We believe to own a potential Dan’s Bagels, you need to be an operator not just an investor.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is to my wife and children – without their support, my bagel shop would have never happened. Imagine me, their husband and father, saying….”I’m thinking of quitting the corporate job life that’s supported this family for 25 years and open a bagel shop.” That comment is a lot to digest and unpack for anyone. Yes, my family was anxious about it – but it wasn’t a random idea knowing that the bagel business out of our home was doing surprisingly well. It also helped that my family is a transplant to TX from the Northeast – and amazed by the high number of transplants in the DFW area – the customer profile of many who were buying my bagels out of my home, btw.

But it didn’t take very long for them to support me and also go all-in. They all knew I wanted to own my own business one day – and they saw this as my opportunity. They are so amazing and supportive. My wife ended up quitting her successful real estate agent career and working with me full time to open the shop. My children pitched in and handled all the less glamorous errands like throwing away garbage, picking up materials etc.

All that work paid off – when we opened up on August 3rd, 2022. My wife handles all the staffing and makes the housemade products like the cream cheese and sandwich salads. I make, boil and bake the bagels – unlike many bagels in the area and even in the country, my bagels are sourdough bagels that uses a sourdough starter and goes through a slower, longer and more modern cold fermentation process.

Our business is doing very well – our reviews across social media, Google, Yelp, Uber Eats etc. are awesome – and we are grateful & love our customers. Our food is premium quality (although not cheap – you pay for what you get) and our customer service comes with rave reviews. We were quickly recognized as Reader’s Choice in 2022 by Southlake Style magazine. But the thing we’re most proud of is our commitment to support the local community. We put our money where our mouth is – I committed to give back to the community that supported us so much during our beginning days. Dan’s Bagels has spent to date since our opening over $10,000 in local school sponsorships, in-kind product donations and local event sponsorships. We’re so proud of that and the community has returned in kind – making our business successful and quickly growing. So, the community deserves credit & recognition as well.

Website: www.dansbagels.com

Instagram: @dansbagels

Facebook: dansbagels

Yelp: Dan’s Bagels

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.