Over the past few semesters, a University Housing and Dining staff member noticed a trend in dining halls: Students were not eating the bagels.
Erich Geiger, senior director of dining and catering at UHD, said he wanted to change that.
“When I was upstairs having breakfast here at Jester, I was in line and I was talking to students,” Geiger said. “I would ask, ‘How are the bagels?’ ‘They’re okay.’”
After reaching out to a couple companies, Geiger said UHD decided to partner with Wholy Bagel, a local bakery that makes authentic, New York-style bagels. A New York-style bagel is made fresh and boiled, while a conventional bagel is frozen and baked. The bakery’s products started selling on campus on Jan. 21 after the University committed to buying 50 dozen bagels per weekday and 25 dozen bagels per weekend, Geiger said.
The bagels are sold at $1.39 and offered in University residential dining halls, convenience stores and coffee locations, Geiger said.
Since he’s from the North, Geiger said it was important to him that students had access to quality bagels.
“I was told that when I got when I started talking about it originally … the kids really don’t eat a lot of bagels,” Geiger said. “I’m like, they would if they were good.”
Wholy Bagel co-owner Richard Spiegel said he was surprised by the demand for bagels as they are typically more popular in the Northeast.
“There’s an interesting dynamic here in Texas,” Spiegel said. “People who are not as familiar with bagels have recognized there is a difference in quality and gravitated toward us.”
UHD registered dietitian Lindsay Wilson said Wholy Bagel was chosen because of the quality of the bagels and the bakery’s producing capacity.
“Most of the companies, with being local, were those smaller, mom and pop shops,” Wilson said. “Fifty dozen a day is definitely a large quantity to increase their normal production by.”
Spiegel said he was looking to grow the bakery while still staying local to Austin.
“We know this is giving us an opportunity to gain exposure to students,” Spiegel said. “Hopefully they enjoy our products and continue to consume them after they’ve left school.”
Geiger said UHD looks to bring specific brands on campus based on student feedback on what they would like to eat.
“We’re not brand specific — we’re quality and experience driven,” Geiger said. “You’re trying to get something everyone likes.”
Along with the introduction of Wholy Bagel, UHD also added 400 new recipes across dining locations and expanded the hours of operation this semester, Wilson said.
“(We went) into the dining locations (and listened) to student feedback and that was one of those areas where students were underwhelmed,” Wilson said.
Wilson said UHD makes changes to the dining options based on student feedback they get on comment cards and from student organizations.
Geiger said it is important for the University to offer quality dining options to students because eating together can improve students’ time on campus.
“We’re part of the experience at UT,” Geiger said. “People break bread. This is where they make friends.”