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Culture Column: Dave’s Bagels brings flame-grilled flavor to Southern Illinois
September 17, 2022
Dave’s Bagels is a local food stand that has been around for almost two years and is bringing a new flavor to the boiled dough concoctions. David Waun, co-founder, said the stand specializes in grilled bagels with a variety of toppings and specialty options.
David Waun said he and his wife thought about the idea of doing a bagel stand for a while, but what really drove the idea home was the retirement of Winston’s Bagels owner Winston Mezo.
He was known as the Bagel Man and had a huge impact on the Carbondale community. Seeing how much the community loved Winton’s Bagels, made Waun want to bring that back to Carbondale.
“We wanted something that was a cart so that customers could see their meals or sandwiches being cooked right there in front of them,” Waun said. “We would be able to socialize with them and when you’re in a trailer, you’re not really able to do that, in my opinion, and so we knew that we wanted to do something simple and something small.”
Waun said being able to have an environment where he and his wife can interact with customers is a big part of why customers come back.
He said when it comes to deciding what events they go to, price plays a big factor.
“Carbondale thankfully has just done away with that fee and has done away with a couple of their rules and regulations to make it a little bit easier for food vendors. But some cities, and everything, charge and, just for instance, Vienna, the city of Vienna has $300 a year [fee] to be able to set up in their community,” Waun said.
He said the fees food vendors have to pay to set up their stand are necessary to be a part of the food vendor business.
Melissa Waun, co-founder and David’s wife, said it took a lot of trial and error to come up with bagel toppings.
“We actually started doing sample bagels and stuff here at the house and grilling them and trying to figure out grills and things like that,” Melissa Waun said. “We sampled [them] on all of our friends and our neighbors and family members helped us as far as recipes and things that would taste good and the names of things for the menu.”
She said, while they have been around for almost two years, they are still learning as they go along.
“We have set up in the rain before. It may or may not even be profitable because we’ve set up in the rain before, [at] one of the wineries and we expected it to be a large crowd and there was nobody there. We literally sold no bagels that day, so we’re living and learning,” Melissa Waun said.
According to David Waun, he enjoys being able to do events at Southern Illinois University and is happy to try and live up to Winston’s name.
“We’ll have so many students that come up and they’ll be, like, ‘my mom or dad came to SIU and they said I needed to find the bagel guy.’ Obviously they’re talking about Winston. But with me being the next thing since Winston is retired. It’s awesome to hear that,” David Waun said.
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