Howbowda Bagel opening to broaden breakfast

Howbowda Bagel owners Dustin Canter, left, and Ryan McNeily stand in the front of their new restaurant on Green Street Monday. Canter and McNeily plan to open the shop, which will feature sandwiches such as The All-American Zooker, within the next week Susan Kantor

Howbowda Bagel owners Dustin Canter, left, and Ryan McNeily stand in the front of their new restaurant on Green Street Monday. Canter and McNeily plan to open the shop, which will feature sandwiches such as “The All-American Zooker,” within the next week Susan Kantor

By Susan Kantor

When every other student in Grainger Library was studying for final exams last December, Ryan McNeily and Dustin Canter were drawing up a business plan for a loan to start up their own bagel shop on Green Street.

Nine months later, that business plan is coming to fruition with Howbowda Bagel, 611 E. Green St., set to open within the coming week, pending results of an inspection from the city scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

“Someone said that it’s been about nine months and oh, the baby’s almost arriving,” Canter said.

“It’s a nine-month term here,” McNeily added.

The store truly is their “baby,” with the recently graduated duo working on the majority of the construction themselves, including removing drywall, building new counters, installing the flooring, placing tiles on the walls and painting murals, in an effort to have more of a connection to the space where Drew’s Pizzeria used to reside.

“We went from absolutely nothing to where we are now and basically executed every step along the way ourselves. So that’s a long time to be so involved and not have any revenue coming in and not being able to finally realize being open,” McNeily said.

Canter and McNeily also decided on the menu themselves, which, although not finalized, will contain more than 15 types of sandwiches, including breakfast, gourmet, deli and vegetarian. The bagel dough will be shipped from New York overnight and baked every morning. The store will also offer specialties items including beer chips, cinnamon rolls and $1 coffee with a refillable logo mug. Sandwiches will cost approximately $5 while a bagel and spread will be about $2.

And the menu items will be available any time of the day, with the store scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. until 3 a.m. on weekends during the school year.

“We were both recently students here, so we know the late night activity here, we want to cater to that. We want to cater to kids going to class early in the morning then we want to grab the lunch crowd,” McNeily said.

The store is meant to be focused as a “mom and pop” Illinois store instead of another chain store on Green Street.

“This shop is literally tailored to the University of Illinois,” McNeily said. “We both went here, we both always thought there should be a bagel shop here.”

Take the “All-American Zooker” sandwich: Sausage, egg, cheddar cheese on an egg bagel and inspired by head football coach Ron Zook.

They are going to try working with clubs and charities on campus and the community through their catering operation and plan to market the business themselves to attract customers.

Even in the struggling economy, they aren’t concerned with opening a new business.

“We look at it as people have to eat and that’s part of our business, providing a product,” Canter said. “And with our location, we know people will be passing every single day, and we know college students don’t cook for themselves … We have an opportunity to make a sell to college students here on campus.”

McNeily said that their “trial by fire” approach to the business is something that the generation in college now needs.

“I’ve got to figure everything out myself,” McNeily said. “If I can’t depend on myself or Dustin, I can’t depend on anybody. I really, really like that. So if anything goes wrong, I know whose fault it is.”