Born in the Bronx to Italian restaurateurs, Steven Novotny grew up in the food business, but for the past 13 years, he’s worked as a hairstylist at Ovo Salon. A Polish IT sales consultant from Cleveland, Julie Dragich once ran a catering company. Neither was a baker. But after a pandemic-inspired change, the duo now operates the Bronx Bagel Buggy, a New York-style bagel business that sells at farmers markets in Brookhaven, Dunwoody, and Sandy Springs.
After attempting to make their own bagels from scratch, Novotny and Dragich ended up taking a bagel-making class and began taste-testing their recipes with friends. Dragich was out of work at the time, and offered to sell the bagels at the Brookhaven Farmers Market.
“It just kind of took off,” she says.
Now, Novotny is down to two days a week at the salon as he focuses on expanding the Bronx Bagel Buggy. Dragich currently bakes the 4-inch, hand-rolled creations on the side, but hopes to go full-time with the business one day.
“We are learning through the school of hard knock how to be bakers,” Dragich says. “We learned to convert recipes from a home kitchen to a professional kitchen. We’re growing and getting wholesale offers. We’re trying to find space to take this to the next level.”
The Bronx Bagel Buggy—which is actually a tent, not a literal buggy or cart—sells preservative-free, kettle-boiled, and baked bagels that are crunchy outside and light and airy inside, Novotny says. They come in flavors like everything, pretzel, garlic Parmesan, sesame, and sun-dried tomato Asiago. The cream cheese offerings are unique—think raspberry jalapeno, peanut butter-chocolate chip, hot honey sriracha, and sweet and spicy mustard.
Dragich and Novotny also make bialys, bagel chips, Sicilian pizza, bagel dogs, and Bagel Bombs (bagel balls stuffed with cream cheese). Their Mama’s Stuffed Cakes are based on a 100-plus-year-old recipe from Dragich’s family.
“They’re the cupcakes I grew up with,” she says. “There’s no frosting. They have a whipped filling like a Ho Ho. They’re not as sweet as most cupcakes—the filling is light and frothy.”
Dragich and Novotny are working on a partnership with a local restaurateur to supply bagels for a new coffee shop on the Westside this summer. They declined to name the chef, but said it will allow Atlantans to dine in, take out, or order delivery through UberEats.
They’re also on the lookout for a brick-and-mortar space where they can open their own bagel shop in Brookhaven. “I’ve lived here for 27 years. I love this neighborhood. We’re part of this community,” Dragich says.