Picture: Harper, Curtis, Skylar, Bailey, Becky and Corbin

Submitted by Kevin Grogan –

The Henderson Bagel Company (HBC) is the product of Clermont resident Curtis Henderson & family.  Little bagels, BIG impact!  Henderson has made a BIG impact in the community.  Though the family business is rather new to the community, it is having terrific results in south Lake County.  And more importantly, instead of banking the profits, Henderson & crew give away all their profits to three local charities.  The Tablet had to find out more about Curtis Henderson & the Henderson Bagel Company.

Tablet: How did Henderson Bagel Company come to exist?  How long have you been cooking bagels?

Henderson: I learned to make bagels in high school from a transplanted New Yorker that opened a bagel shop in Greenville, SC.  I loved making bagels.  I hoped to open a shop later in life when I could do it completely for fun and not for the money.  Last year, my wife encouraged me to start making them again for fun out of our house.  Florida State allows it under the Cottage Food Act.

Tablet:  Your local following in Lake County is gaining momentum by the week. Did you ever dream the business would grow so fast?

Henderson: It’s amazing how many people are looking for a good bagel and are willing to give mine a try.  At first, I thought my friends and family were just being nice but it’s encouraging to get some positive reviews from unbiased, native New Yorkers.

Tablet:  All your profits go to one of your three charities. Probably the most impressive thing about the HBC. Has this always been part of the vision as well; giving back so much?

Henderson: The mission of HBC is to “love your neighbor”.  It was never about the money, and I wanted to keep it that way.  It made sense to give all the proceeds to some awesome nonprofits that my family is involved with:  Buses ‘n Backpacks, Building Blocks Ministries, and Beautiful Feet International/Minnick Mission.  Customers get to choose which nonprofit they want the proceeds from their purchase to support.  We also offer a cool concept called, “suspended bagels”.   The customer has the option to purchase a dozen bagels at cost. I will make and deliver to one of our local food pantries.

Tablet:   You are very involved in the South Lake Community   Tell us how the Henderson Bagel Company plays a part in some of your other passions; such as creating running trails & being active?

Henderson: Before I got hit by a car back in 2012, I was very much involved in the running & triathlon community.  These days, my body only lets me swim; though I try to bring bagels to some of the local events, such as parkrun and S4 for support and encouragement.

I moved to Clermont in 2004 and chose to stay here to raise a family because of the active lifestyle and awesome places for outdoor recreation like Lake Louisa State Park, the world-famous clay roads, NTC, Waterfront Park, and bike trails.  I’m passionate about ensuring we maintain this quality of life and opportunities for outdoor recreation as our community grows, so the next generation will want to make south Lake County their home too.

Tablet:  Where do you see the Henderson Bagel Company going in the next 5 years?

Henderson: A year ago I never would have believed that people would buy my bagels.  Honestly, I’m having so much fun that I don’t think much about the long term.  However, if the growth continues, the next step will be looking for a commercial or shared kitchen to increase capacity.  Ideally, it would be somewhere like a pizza shop that doesn’t have overlapping hours and is looking to offset its overhead expenses.

Tablet:  Henderson Bagel Company is definitely a family business.  Each week your family is seen helping the community.  This makes your business extra special.  Tell us a little bit about your team.

Henderson: We have 4 kids…so far:  Harper, 7, Corbin, 7, Bailey, 4, and Skylar, 1.  When we make bagels for our family, all the kids enjoy working with the dough and forming bagels.   My wife Becky handles all the creative and back-end support such as our logo, signs, packaging, purchasing supplies, etc.  As orders have grown, my brother-in-law, Kevin who looks like my blood brother, helps with baking and going to the Clermont Farmer’s Market with his girlfriend, Kinsey.

Tablet: These bagels come to the customer super fresh, sometimes still hot.  Walk us through your typical bagel day schedule.

Henderson: I make some of the dough the morning before which completely takes over both of our refrigerators.  I can never sleep the morning of a bake so I’m usually up between 2-3 am.   The oven can put out about 12 dozen bagels an hour so; by the time customers come for pickup or we’re ready to head out to the farmer’s market, the house smells like a bakery!  Later in the day, I always manage to sneak in a nice nap!

Tablet: Anything else you would like to share with our readers; most importantly, how can they get their hands on some of your delicious bagels?

Henderson: The best way to stay up-to-date of upcoming bagel events is by visiting www.hendersonbagelcompany.com and signing up for our newsletter and/or liking the Facebook page.  I email and post the schedule and highly recommend pre-ordering on the website because they typically sellout.  The 3 main venues for bagels right now are the 1st Sunday of the month at the Clermont Farmer’s Market, a home pickup one Saturday a month.  This Saturday coming up, April 15th, is the next pick-up day we have!