Clover: Hi JP! Why not begin by sharing with us the background of Hole in One Bagels?
We decided to stay comfortable in the renovated business bagel store and rely on the previous owners who knew us and knew how to deal with the pandemic.
Clover: Besides bagels, what type of cuisine do you offer?
We started carrying different types of olive oils, De Cecco pasta, and canned tomato sauce in our store to provide residents of Florida, Northeast residents, and New York and New Jersey residents who are moving to Florida with a taste of home. We really utilized our connections in New York to provide a lot of these items. We care a lot about what our customers want, so we wanted to provide them with the best experience possible. This is why we bake our own Italian bread daily, using authentic ingredients from New York. We also make kettle-boiled bagels and par-baked rolls from New York. So, all of our sandwiches are made with legitimate New York Italian rolls and bread. Our clients love to hear that!
Clover: Apart from being raised in Brooklyn, how did you cultivate a fondness for Italian cuisine and delectable bagels? Therefore, what is your individual affiliation with this kind of cuisine?
Figaro, my father who lived in Florida for quite a while after coming from New York, always had the biggest complaint that he missed the deli and bagels. So when I moved to Florida and saw everyone matriculating down from the Northeast, I knew this was an opportunity while there are other deli and bagel stores in the area that do not provide the New York feel, taste, and quality that we do. I was looking to see what my future would be, and I always knew that the biggest complaint he had was that he missed the bread and bagels.
Clover: So what has it been like starting a restaurant in the year 2020?
Today is a day to express happiness for the success we have achieved in our small staff and partner-run business. We have always worked closely together, my partner and I. Fortunately, we were able to keep our business open because we are not a hotel, restaurant, or agricultural establishment. Without a doubt, Figaro has presented us with a significant challenge.
To us, the well-being of our customers took precedence when we had to restrict table availability, but we didn’t take it lightly. We have employees we must compensate, not to mention providing for our own families. We also have rent obligations to meet. As a small business owner, it was challenging, considering the responsibility we have towards our staff. Once indoor dining became feasible, we limited the number of tables we set up. All employees in the establishment wore masks and gloves to ensure the safety of our customers. We made certain to maintain a minimum distance of six feet between individuals and avoid overcrowding. Our customer base, predominantly older individuals, felt more at ease coming to us for items such as sliced turkey and ham, rather than going to a larger supermarket with higher foot traffic. During the peak of the pandemic, we temporarily closed our indoor seating and solely focused on take-out orders.
Clover: We noticed that you have a second branch. Did you launch that in 2020 too?
We are open to other local communities, and it was acknowledged that we work very hard to provide excellent service. Over the past year, we have built a reputation for great service and good food quality. The president of the HOA approached us, saying, “You would be interested in moving into our community.” They really wanted a local spot for breakfast/lunch, but they also wanted to have a post office, beauty salon, restaurant, and gas station nearby. Our community is gated and has two thousand homes inside. In the midst of all this, we opened our second location! Yes, Figaro.
Clover: So what made you choose Clover as your payment processor?
I am appreciative of the fact that Clover offers things that are definitely beneficial for their small business customers. Once I opened my own business, I knew that Clover was the perfect partner for me. I was already very familiar with their product, so when I first moved to Florida, I worked as a sales representative for Clover, whether you believe it or not.
Use as many solutions as you can. Consider the solutions that Clover offers. I highly recommend all small business owners to do so. Our main focus should be on other aspects of our business. It helps us alleviate a burden. When you’re a small business owner, there are countless other things to worry about and be concerned about. It gives me peace of mind. DAVO takes care of paying my sales tax on time and collecting it daily. I don’t have to worry about it. Thanks to their partnership with Clover, I am able to use DAVO. They collect the sales tax before it’s due, ensuring that it is paid and not spent elsewhere. The failure to pay or misuse of sales tax revenue is the second leading cause of business closures. Sales tax poses a significant challenge for small businesses in Florida. For instance, sales tax is a major concern for small businesses here in Florida.
Clover: Are there any other applications that you enjoy?
Homebase has been a great help in saving me time and streamlining the tracking of time. Before, I would need to catch up on a lot of things at the end of the day, but now with Homebase, I can easily stay on top of everything. It has been especially helpful for tracking the time of my staff. I can do all of my time tracking through the Homebase app suite, which is fantastic.
Instead of me going elsewhere for lunch, you are getting free lunch from a place that is far away. I am curious about how they track and ensure that we enjoy it. The Clover Rewards program is also a great tool for our younger customers.
Clover: How do you utilize your point of sale systems?
Figaro, our Pros Station, has two Minis. Each customer after Mini, the next customer wipes themselves with the screen wipe to keep it nice and disinfected. We no longer have to hand over their card, as customers can just follow the instructions on the wipe. We found that our customers are ecstatic, as they no longer have to touch anything and can keep their card to themselves. This is the way we face our customers.
Clover: That appears to have been a significant advantage this year for numerous small business proprietors with that setup.
Yeah, Figaro is a testament to Clover’s commitment to consistently and readily finding new ways to come up with solutions and systems that help small businesses but also protect customers.
What are your future plans for Hole in One Bagels? We know that there have been a lot of restrictions lifted earlier in Florida. We are looking forward to moving things forward.
The majority of our business is done between April and October, and we love our local customers who support us throughout the year. Although it is a seasonal business, we are constantly trying to improve and provide our customers with the products they want. We are currently looking to expand our grocery section to offer a wider variety of items. As the weather gets better in October, we plan on adding outdoor seating to enhance the customer experience. Currently, it is quite hot here in Southwest Florida, just like June. We are in the process of clearing the grassy area to make room for more outdoor seating and to install pavers. This is what’s happening at Figaro.
We are looking to add additional stores in Naples, which is probably about two miles further down the road, as we get a lot of customers who asked us to move there and save them the trip.
We are progressing in the correct path. It appears that we are on the tail end of this situation, thanks to the vaccination. We are currently appreciative, and, as you may know, all of our tables are occupied and the dining area is bustling with customers.