What is your full name, title, and business name?
Kevin Crowley, owner, the Lox Bagel Shop
Follow Lox on Instagram
Give us a summary of your business in 200 words or less.
Hand rolled, boiled and baked bagels and bagel sandwiches using only the best ingredients we can get our hands on.
How did the idea for your business come about?
Having been in the restaurant business my whole adult life, my dream was always to own my own restaurant. The idea of an actual bagel shop came over the course of the last few years of travel and resurgence of artisan bread, Jewish deli culture/cuisine and of bagel culture. As my wife and I would tally our pro’s and cons in our potential business plans – the bagel shop came out on top. We really started a deep dive into this about 4 years ago and here we are!
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
We are so new that we are not sure yet what we have! Haha.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
Responsibility… to your employees, your community, your guests, your vendors. You have a chance to impact the lives of many and it can not be taken lightly. Our decisions do not only impact ourselves, but the lives of many others as well and you need to factor that into every step of the way.
Freedom… I’ve never been a very good employee, so now its on me!
Pride… in everything we do
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
Everything. I am a Columbus transplant, having been born in Cincinnati and spending a large chunk of my time outside of Ohio. I have loved each and every city I have called home, but none are as willing and open to new business, entrepreneurship, food and the startup mentality. It is a pretty special place that provides tremendous support in all aspects of our venture.
Are you from Columbus? If not, please explain what brought you to here and ultimately what made you stay.
I am not from Columbus. I came to OSU as an undergrad – left to go to culinary school and to the west coast – then found my way back to town when I came to get an MBA at OSU. I met my wife – who is from Columbus – and now we call Columbus home!
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
Be ready to give it everything you got! It is as liberating as it is exhausting. There are MANY highs and MANY lows.. Be calm and navigate each with as level of a head as possible. It is not easy..Learning sooner than later to focus on only what you can control and give everything to your vision and your employees will help keep you grounded.
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
The emotional toll it would take. You are pouring your soul into whatever it is you start and that is taxing on a number of fronts. Also, it is very personal to make food for people and each bit of feedback is hard to not take so personally – both positive and negative.
What’s the most challenging part of your business (i.e, what keeps you up at night)?
So many things… How to be a great leader, how to run the most efficient business, how to translate what we are to our guests, how to impact those around you in as positive way as possible, remembering that this is what you wanted! Keeping your focus on your family, your employees and your product. This is just the start of a long list.
Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
Too many to state just one! Emotional, stubborn, desires to do too many things, too focused, not focused enough…the list goes on.
Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different?
I am not sure. I think that you need to know your industry implicitly and fully. It is easy to be drawn to the idea or romance of success without putting in all the hard, grinding work to know your business and your industry like the back of your hand. We still have plenty of opportunity to fail. We are only a few months old!
What was your biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
Again.. too many mistakes to say one was the biggest!
What tool has helped you the most for your business (invoicing, accounting, shipping, plugin for website, etc.)?
My team. They are incredible. All of them are hyper-talented, smart, amazingly kind and impressive people. They make this happen daily.
When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
When I met Silas Caeton for the first time I knew I wanted to work with him and I pushed the early stages of financing to make sure we could make a competitive offer.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
Aside from hiring such a great team, Instagram as a tool has been a tremendous asset. We do not advertise or even have a website yet.. we did not answer our phone for the first month plus of being open so our connection piece to our guests was instagram. I’m biased, but I think my wife does a pretty great job handling the account and generating content to keep up relevant in that particular aspect of social branding.
What was an idea that you spent a lot of time on or thought would make a big difference in your business that didn’t pan out.
We have a whole set of recipes and menu items that we have yet to roll out because our first weeks have been so intense. We are improving daily so we are able to slowly get some of these items to show up from time to time, but we will constantly push ourselves here.
What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?
Our people. We pay very well for our industry. That will never change.
What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?
– New menu offerings are always fun. We have a few things up our sleeve that are exciting that you will have to stay posted for!
– An ever-evolving benefits package for our team – already good, but never good enough
– Partnering with other restaurants, organizations, charities, etc to give back and help out where we can.
What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
Instagram because it is all we have.
Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)? Please provide name and business name so we can give them credit!
So many to name..
Kevin and Darren Malhame from Northstar – fantastic advisors, mentors
Jeff and Lauren Cully – Fox in the Snow
Andrew Rosenthal and his awesome team at GRAD Architecture
All the incredibly talented people who helped the vision of the space come together (Crowworks, Edgework Creative (see their EoC feature HERE, Axis Construction, Stump plants, Dylan Menges for the insane work on the wall!! and Abigal Dillon who is a rising star in the world of design and responsible for so much of our branding work)
Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
Jeff and Lauren.. They have seen it all in their short 4 years as owners!
I have an amazing group of friends that I made from grad school who are pretty special people that hear me out as well – Ryan McFadyen who owns Ohio Strength Crossfit, Christine Deye who works for A&R Group, Leanne Gluck out in SF and Javier Alverez in NYC! They keep us grounded and let me get it all out!
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
It is tough to say now as we just began, but I’d love to see a second and third location of the lox in Columbus. I would be honored and beyond happy if I were able to help Silas or any member of my team to achieve their dream of opening a restaurant, possibly with our company assistance, and see our business grow not just from the lox, but in a wider bredth as well.
What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?
Every single one. Anyone who is willing to put it all on the line – physically, financially, emotionally – deserves all of the love and credit in the world. Once you put the owner shoes on, the respect for all who are willing to do the same jumps by 1000% instantly.
If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
One thing!!! No way! Haha. My tour would include (among others) coffee and pastry at Fox in the Snow, lunch at Northstar and Brassica, dinner at Commune and Paulie Gee’s pizza. We would be getting beers at Seventh Son intermediately as well! Haha. You have to tour campus as well to really understand the impact that the University has on our town and show an outsider a bit of how our city continues to grow.