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Bo's Bagels

What do you do when an iconic New York food is nowhere to be found in Harlem? For Andrew Martinez, owner of Bo’s Bagels, the answer is to make them yourself. After being in the hospital for a few weeks with an intense bagel craving, he returned home and began experimenting. Before he knew it, he was popping out amazing bagels that his friends were devouring. He then began making them for parties and selling them at the farmer's markets. When there was a line down the block after only a few days, Andrew knew that it was time to open up his own brick and mortar shop. Having established a presence in the neighborhood by constantly selling out of bagels at the farm stands and catering breakfast for corporations, Andrew had a reputation for making incredible food. “It was always about the bagels, ” he said. “[It was] not how we necessarily planned to get started, but once it took off that became our thing. ”Andrew shares credit with his wife, Ashley Dikos, for their success. “I could not have done any of this without her. We are both equally responsible for where we are today. ” The pair met while working at a restaurant. Over the years, Andrew had managed many eateries. “She was not in the food business at all — I roped her into it. ” Ashley left her career behind and helped him start Bo’s. “Despite having never managed a restaurant, she is probably the best manager I’ve ever had. ”One of their most popular bagels is the za’tar. Andrew gets it straight from a farm in Lebanon, thanks to his sister-in-law. It is shipped a couple of times a year, and according to Andrew, no place makes za’tar better than Lebanon. "If you asked me five years ago if I wanted to be in the bagel business, I would have said 'nope. ' But wow, has it changed our lives! " he added. "The people in Harlem kept saying that they knew we needed this, but no one bothered to do it, so I did. "Andrew grew up in New York City and prides himself on the community environment in his bagel shop. The first thing to draw the Manhattan Sideways team's attention was a huge bagel hanging on two strings outside. The interior lighting is warm and inviting. The aisle leading from the door to the register is spacious, unlike other bagel chains, giving enough room for children to roam around and for a stroller to comfortably fit. The seating comprises metal tables with tall chairs, neatly tucked away on one side of the shop. On the walls hang artwork by local artists that are available for purchase. This inviting space has allowed Andrew to establish a relationship with the Harlem community. “We know everyone now — we are watching babies be born and turn into toddlers, so we decided to make mini bagels for them, ” he said. “We’re so busy on weekends sometimes we can’t handle the amount of people that come in. ” But they do, and they do it well. Though it took a few years, the shop has become a household name in the community. Andrew’s new focus is expanding the brand and hoping that other New Yorkers will learn about him and his scrumptious bagels.