For most people, the idea of waking up before the sun comes up for a new job would not be the most exciting prospect.
For Antoinette Crudo and her husband Tony that is exactly what they signed up for when they bought and are excited about the prospects of their new business. "I love it," she said. "I've worked my entire life for somebody else, and always giving it 200 percent. I'm now doing that for myself which is the most rewarding thing I've ever done."
Antoinette Crudo said the Freehold couple have been looking to buy a bagel place for more than 20 years combining her interests as a baker and his business interests. "It was something I always wanted to do," she said.
With experience in education and catering Crudo said she is excited to see how the business grows even just one month after buying their long awaited dream company. "We're loving every minute of it," she said. "Waking up early, having to worry about the business, I love it."
With the new job comes 12 hour days usually starting around 4 a.m. and continuing until the doors closed and the shop is cleaned up around 4 p.m. Crudo said the bagels are just one part of the business and they are made fresh every day. "Everything here is fresh," she said. "A lot of our stuff is baked and loved here."
There have been some small changes since the Crudos bought the business with new bagels being baked and more on the way. "We're looking to expand a little bit from just the basic package," she said. That includes more egg and whole wheat bagels and the possibility of jalapeno and cheddar bagels coming soon.
With a name like Not Just Bagels, Crudo said it is important for them to provide more than just bagels. "I think people are starting to realize that our sandwiches aren't just regular sandwiches," she said.
With Boars Head products and homemade salads Crudo said they offer a wide variety of items for breakfast or lunch or both. "I think a lot of what I believe in is freshness," she said. "If I won't eat it why would I sell it?"
Once they get settled, Crudo said the goal is to take their product beyond Howell's borders and sell them at the wholesale level. "We have a great bagel. There's no reason why everybody else in the state shouldn't know about it."
Before that happens, Crudo said she is glad to bring a quality product to an area she knows well. "I think once our name and our product get out there I think there's a better response," she said. "I've had people walk in and tell me that they pass four or five bagels and they stop at this one. For them to do that there's got to be a reason."
There may be plenty of varieties of bagels to buy but Crudo said her favorite is the less traditional everything flagel. A flatter version of the well known bagel she said she enjoys them with their new strawberry cream cheese as her item of choice in her new shop.
With new customers coming in every day Crudo said she is always excited to welcome them. "We have a great bagel that will be served with a smile and it will be consistent," she said of the finished product.