Business Spotlight: Boone Bagelry Stays Fresh 26 Years Later, Adds New Location off N.C. 105, Business Partner
By Jesse Wood
May 29, 2014
In two weeks, Boone Bagelry will turn 26 years old, which is the same age as Natalie Nicastro, the oldest daughter of owners Tony and Donna Nicastro.
Natalie, who was practically raised in the downtown restaurant, is now a business partner with her parents. She became a joint owner of Boone Bagelry when a second location opened beside the iconic waterwheel along N.C. 105 last September.
“She grew up in this business. She knows it and knows very good customer service and how to make sure people enjoy coming here and having a good experience,” Donna said, noting Natalie’s marketing and business degree from Appalachian State University.
Donna also added that Natalie, who is “young, smart and has fresh ideas,” has been a real asset to the family business.
Donna even joked about it being “hard to teach old dogs new tricks” whenever Natalie came aboard and immediately suggested upgrading to a POS (point of sale) system.
“We’ve always handwritten checks,” Donna said. “We’ll see how that goes. I am a little nervous, but it is what it is.”
At first, a new Boone Bagelry franchise was considered for Winston-Salem or Asheville. But after the owners of the old Geno’s building contacted the Nicastros, they decided to give a new location in a different part of town a shot. The building is spacious and can handle large groups or meetings at the big tables in the back of the restaurant. It also has plenty of parking, something that has become such a commodity in downtown Boone where the original Boone Bagelry has operated for more than two decades. Plans are also in the works to build a deck for dining outside.
“So we said, ‘Why not? We’ll try it,’” Donna said. “It’s a good spot. If people would just come and try it, they would enjoy it.”
With the different location comes a different clientele, but Donna said that the same food, menu and service exist.
“We’ve got a great staff. Our girls are good. Fast and friendly service is kind of what we are known for,” Donna said.
As for the food: “The consistency is the same,” she said, adding that the cooks were trained at the original restaurant.
Boone Bagelry is known the world over for the Bagelicious (bacon and ham) and the Tempehlicious (tempeh) that include fried egg and melted American, Swiss or Muenster cheese on a bagel of your choice: plain, poppy, sesame, garlic, salt onion, bialy, raisin, pumpernickel, whole wheat, blueberry, sun dried tomato, everything, whole wheat everything, apple cinnamon and now gluten free.
But that is just two of the options on a menu that has dozens of choices for all kinds of diners of breakfast and lunch whether they are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or a carnivore. Check out all of the offerings here. And don’t forget the 5 percent cash discount.
Boone Bagelry is a family business by all definitions of the word. Donna’s sister used to be a partner until she was bought out four years ago. Donna’s other sister Marge Minter manages at the N.C. 105 location. And if the Nicastro’s other daughter who is living in California comes back and wants to join the business, a spot is reserved.
Boone Bagelry is a member of Boone Independent Restaurants, a nonprofit collective that supports independent businesses in a way that may help them compete with the influx of and existing national chains and in the area.
“Not that we hate chains, but for us it makes a big difference if people come,” Nicastro said. “Local is important really. We are all just trying to make a living. We are just plugging along, just trying to make it. That’s it. That’s our story.”
Tony is from Brooklyn and Donna is from Canada. They met in Florida, where Tony’s parents opened a bagel shop. Before they decided to move the mountains to raise a family, Tony was an insurance agent and Donna was a travel agent.
After Natalie graduated from ASU, she pursued a marketing job that had her working in Montgomery, Ala., and Mobile, Ala. Donna said she told Natalie, “Come back to the mountains. We need you. One day I’d like to not be here. You know what I mean.”
All three work at the two locations on different days.
“All three of us are people persons that just know customer service. We just try to give a good, fair meal at a good price. We like it,” Donna said. “I don’t know what else we would be doing really. Even before [our previous jobs] we worked for our parents in their restaurant business. We’ve just always been in this business.”
For more history on Boone Bagelry, check out a former business spotlight by High Country Press written in 2008. It starts off with a hilarious, true story about Boone Bagelry being at the center of the universe in the early ‘90s.
Boone Bagelry, “where breakfast and lunch are always special,” is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at both locations. On Friday and Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., the downtown location is open for the late-night crowd. Delivery service is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact the downtown restaurant, which is located at 516 West King St., at 828-262-5585. Contact the N.C. 105 restaurant, which is located at 125 Graduate Lane, at 828-262-1600.