Making the transition from a New York City bagel to pretty much any other bagel can be quite difficult. This was the case for Chris DeFilippi and his fiancé Austin English when they moved from Brooklyn to Cornwall in 2021. After searching high and low for a decent bagel, the couple decided to take matters into their own hands when they started Rocky Bagel in September of 2023. With their online bagel business, the couple have their intentions set on creating delicious bagels that can rival those of their original stomping grounds in the city.
Named after their seven-year-old French bulldog, Rocky Bagel is still a part-time venture for the couple. In addition to their new business, DeFilippi is the Founder of Hazen Consulting Group, which partners with for-profit and nonprofit organizations on improving processes, systems, and data, and English oversees e-commerce operations for a luxury clothing brand.
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Despite their backgrounds lacking in culinary experience, the couple was still determined to create soft and bouncy bagels for their new hometown to enjoy. “Starting a new business is tough. It took us a bit of time to figure out the right boil and bake time as well as the logistical challenges of delivery. I wake up at 3:30 a.m. to begin preparing for the baking (preheat the oven, boil the water, etc.). All of our bagels are boiled, seasoned, and then baked in the oven fresh daily,” says DeFilippi.
Rocky Bagel currently does free delivery to residents in the surrounding Cornwall area, and offers a variety of flavors including plain, sesame, cinnamon raisin, poppy, everything, salt, whole wheat, and egg. For special occasions, the online shop also creates celebratory flavors like the rainbow bagels they recently cooked up for Rocky’s seventh birthday. As far as spreads go, Rocky Bagel is currently restricted to bagels due to NYS cottage laws but hope to offer flavored cream cheeses and more in the very, very near future.
Upon deciding to start their new business, the couple created a website and posted a link in their local Facebook group. Within 48 hours, Rocky Bagel had 400 newsletter signups, including an email from the town supervisor. The support has not ceased since, and the weekends remain incredibly busy for the bagel business.
“To date, we have had 950 orders and made 8,070 bagels! Austin will handle the delivery while I handle the bake. It’s fun! There could be upwards of 100 deliveries per weekend. Everything bagels are by far the community favorite variety,” states DeFilippi.
Grateful for their loyal and wonderful customers – some of which have been ordering every weekend since the shop’s opening – Rocky Bagel gives back to its community where it can with their weekly “surprise and delight” initiative, where the couple chooses a customer or social media follower at random and surprises them with bagels over the weekend as a token of their gratitude.
Looking towards the future, DeFilippi and English feel prepared to open a storefront in Cornwall as soon as the right space becomes available, as they currently operate out of their home. As the business grows, the couple is expanding their delivery areas and days to include more Hudson Valley residents in their bagel brand.
Rocky Bagel can be ordered at rockybagel.com.