Words by Emma Kopelowicz, Photos by Natalie Thibodeau
It’s a Thursday night and everyone in West Campus is either studying or procrastinating as they watch the clock tick towards the weekend. What could possibly make the time go by faster? Enter: Toasty Boys. The weekly student-run bagel delivery service sends out delivery boys to scooter around West Campus into the wee hours, delivering toasted bagels topped with anything from cream cheese to Nutella. Once the clock strikes 8:30, students can pre-order their desired bagel flavor and topping combination through a link on their Instagram page, @toastyboysbagels. In due time, the perfect midnight snack is delivered right to your door some time between the hours of 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. (a.k.a. peak time for cramming for a test).
The bagels come in a variety of sweet and salty flavors to satisfy whatever late-night cravings you are having in the moment. Toasty Boys offers classics like plain and everything and more unique flavors like cinnamon glazed and french toast. The spreads include an assortment of cream cheeses, butter, and the newly added Nutella. With Toasty Boys, the combinations are endless and there’s always something for everyone.
The business was co-founded by Questrom sophomores, Chinda Eleonu and Ilana Basman, in early 2018. I got a chance to sit down with the two of them to talk about the behind-the-scenes process of delivering bagels to the nocturnal crowds of West Campus and their plans for the future.
How did the idea of Toasty Boys come about? Do you consider yourself a bagel aficionado?
Chinda: It all started when I was in my friend’s room and I was kind of hungry because I didn’t have breakfast that morning. I was like, “you know, I should be having breakfast more. I haven’t eaten breakfast since I’ve been at BU because what they have in the dining hall isn’t really what I like to eat.” I was looking on Amazon, as one does whenever they have a crisis like this, and I was looking for something to use to eat breakfast with. I came across a four-slot toaster. At home I would use toasters to make toast, english muffins, and bagels. I turned to my friend Amy and I was like, “should I buy this toaster?” And she was like, “yeah, you can sell stuff out of it and call yourself Toaster Boy!” I got thinking, and then I told the idea to my friends. We all started drawing up designs and coming up with slogans. At the time I wasn’t friends with Illana but I was friends with her roommates, so now she’s going to take the story.
Ilana: I knew of Chinda, but I didn’t actually know him. One night we get a knock on our door while we were just hanging out, and six of these guys start pitching this idea. At first I was like, “this is genuinely the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.” I don’t know why Chinda became friends with me because I shut down this idea so quickly.
Chinda: Multiple times!
Illana: I was like, “this isn’t gonna work; you’re going to get in trouble with BU; everyone is going to hate it … who the hell is going to buy a bagel from you?” I said there was absolutely no way this was going to work, but a couple days later I told them that if they were actually serious and they actually wanted to do this then to let me know.
Chinda: We talked the rest of first semester about it … and then second semester we got a couple people involved. We had meetings, we planned out ideas, [and] did a bunch of research on pricing and places to get bagels. We probably tried seventeen different bagel shops. … We launched late February and sold out our first night!
I don’t consider myself anything special. … I just love bagels and I had them growing up, so I just wanted to bring them to BU!
Where do the bagels come from?
Chinda: We just started using a new shop in Newton. That’s about thirty minutes away by Zipcar. For the longest time we got our bagels from Bagel World in Reading, which is an hour away by Zipcar. They were good, but we wanted Asiago cheese bagels and they didn’t have them. We had to do some more research and then we found the place in Newton.
How do you choose which flavors to sell?
Chinda: Back in the day we put out a survey to ask what everyone’s favorite type of bagel, and so the ones we got the most responses for were plain, everything, and egg. Our first night we just did those three and then we put out polls on our Instagram page to ask, “do you want this flavor or this flavor?”
Illana: We usually have four or five staple flavors, like plain, egg, chocolate chip, and cinnamon glazed, and then we had specialty flavors like sesame and asiago. If we see the demands of those decline then we try something new.
What’s the process of getting toasted bagels to everyone’s door?
Illana: I usually do the behind-the-scenes work. You guys order through the online form and it’s attached to a Google Sheet, so I get every single part of the order you guys put in and I write slips with the name of the person, what they ordered, and where it’s going. I pass that to the person who then takes the bagels, cuts them, puts them in the toaster, gives it to the person who puts the spreads on (we have the Nutella separate because of allergies), then gives it to someone who wraps the bagels in wax paper and puts it into a paper bag. Then we put it in the insulated delivery bags and then they head out the door. We try to do that as quickly as possible so people can get their bagels faster.
What are your top selling bagel and spread combinations?
Illana: Cinnamon glazed and chocolate chip, and sometimes everything depending on the night. Cream cheese is a solid spread, always. We’ve gotten weird combinations like Nutella and butter or butter and cream cheese.
Chinda: When we had strawberry cream cheese a couple weeks ago, we had people requested that with Nutella. They wanted Nutella on one half of the top and strawberry on the bottom half. Some people are very specific with how they want it.
Illana: We’re more than happy to oblige, but it’s very interesting.
Is Toasty Boys planning on expanding soon?
Illana: Soon is a relative term. We’re trying to build up West this semester for sure so we can have that as a solid no matter what.
Chinda: But, we’re doing pop-ups early next semester.
Illana: We’re trying to figure out logistics with Warren right now because it’s such a big place with so many people living in one building. It comes down to planning and marketing to that group of people.
Chinda: We’re definitely doing a pop-up in Warren and Myles, and we’re planning some stuff for the morning too.
Illana: We want it to be incredible and make sure it runs smoothly.
Chinda: We wouldn’t want to do it if we weren’t ready.
Illana: But, we know there’s definitely a demand for it.
Anything else to add?
Chinda: Merch is on the way. It’s gonna be something you won’t just wear because it’s Toasty Boys. You’ll wear it because it’s cool.
What was once a mere daydream of a hungry freshman is now a full-fledged late-night bagel delivery service operation. Eleonu and Basman’s weeks of preparation and taste testing led them to where they are now. The idea of an on-campus bagel delivery service is enough to grab any college student’s attention, but what makes Toasty Boys so special is their quality of products and impeccable customer service. When a friendly student clad in a navy-blue shirt scoots up to your door at 10 p.m. with a bag full of bagels, you get a warm, and dare I say, toasty feeling inside. The bagels are always perfectly toasted and the spread-to-bagel ratio is spot on every time. Midnight snacking will never be the same, and we all have Toasty Boys to thank.
For orders, check out @toastyboysbagels on Instagram.