Truckee Bagel Company relies on quality product, quality service
Special to the Sun
Who: Kerry Sheedy
What: Truckee Bagel Company
Address: 11448 Deerfield Drive, Truckee
TRUCKEE, Calif. — There may be a characteristic hole in Kerry Sheedy’s product, but that’s not to say there are any holes in his business plan.
“I’ve managed to survive the Atkins diet, the worst recession of my lifetime, and the gluten-free wave — plus I still have all my hair,” Sheedy said of his 21-year-old Truckee-based business, Truckee Bagel Company.
Sheedy’s recipe for success boils down to two principles, upon which he’s built his boiled and baked bagel business: quality customer service combined with a quality product.
“I’ve created something I admired as a youth — a place that’s established and known for its reputation of having quality ingredients and friendly faces behind the counter,” said the bicoastal born-and-raised baker.
One of five siblings, Sheedy was born in San Francisco, though he spent most of his youth in northern New Jersey before finishing out high school in Corona del Mar.
“My father is from Boston and went to Princeton, and my mother is from Calistoga and went to San Francisco State, so we’re a bit of a mish-mash of East Coast versus West Coast,” he said. “I’ve lived a lot of places, but I’ve lived in Truckee longer than anywhere else in my life, and I feel the strongest sense of community here.”
Although Sheedy recalls restaurants and delicatessens on the East Coast as having established reputations combined with quality ingredients, it wasn’t until he worked for his mother’s restaurant in Newport Beach that he honed his back of the house skills.
“My mom was a great cook and a great baker,” Sheedy said. “She’s where I got my passion for cooking from, and I’ve now passed that on to my kids, in fact, my son is known as ‘Chef Boyar-Sheedy.’”
After high school, Sheedy moved to Humboldt for college where he worked at a restaurant across the street from the nationally renowned bagelry Los Bagels.
“I’d go over there on my lunch break and get a jalapeño bagel with cream cheese, which really upset the owners of the restaurant because I could eat there for free, but I’d take my tips to the competition,” he said.
Sheedy was already a fan of Los Bagels when popular TV personality Willard Scott announced on the Today Show that the Humboldt-based shop was the best bagel store in America.
“That’s where I originally got the idea to open a bagel shop,” Sheedy said.
BAGELS OR BUST
After college, Sheedy and his wife moved to Truckee to pursue the ski-bum lifestyle for one winter before relocating to the South-Bay Area, but the small taste of Truckee left a big impression on the young couple.
While living in the Silicon Valley region, Sheedy was thriving in a sales position at a large corporation, but his appetite for bagels was leaving him hungry for a more fulfilling career path.
“I saw a lot of people come and go, and I didn’t really see there was much loyalty in corporate America anymore to employees,” Sheedy said. “I felt like it was important for me to control my own destiny.”
With that in mind, Sheedy went back to Los Bagels, where the owner happily shared recipes and tips with the young husband and father of two.
He also began an apprenticeship at a bagel shop in Saratoga, where he’d study the art of the bagel from 3 a.m. until he had to be at his corporate job at 7 a.m.
In 1994, with big-mountain dreams and a bagel recipe in the bag, Sheedy, his wife and their two children moved back to Truckee.
“It was important for me to spend more time with my family, plus we had a lot of good friends in Truckee that we had made in that one winter up here, so it seemed like the right decision to move back,” Sheedy said.
SMALL TOWN, BIG IMPACT
Sheedy set his sights on the space off Deerfield Drive, where he’s since remained for 21 years.
It wasn’t long before Sheedy and his then partner’s bagel and coffee shop temporarily expanded to Reno, then to an additional store at Truckee’s Safeway shopping center.
“We try to make it a fun place for our employees to work, and granted we all have our days, but we figure if we provide a quality product and good customer service, we’ll have a good chance at staying successful,” Sheedy said.
Though both the partnership and the Reno business didn’t stay under Sheedy’s umbrella, they were important stepping stones in learning the ins and outs of owning a restaurant.
“A lot of people can be particular about their bagels, but I’m always willing to throw my wears on the table because I’m trying to produce the best product I can here,” Sheedy said. “I try not to be complacent and I’m always trying to evolve.”
The trial-and-error process included a less-successful salad bar option, and a more sustainable smoothie and yogurt addition at the Safeway location, but it’s the bagels that have proven to be a recipe for success time and time again.
“I always say that quality is key, because when you have a good quality product, people know what to expect,” Sheedy said.
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at email@example.com.