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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Breaking the Bread

Bagels jump up and out of the toasters, butter melts into the bread, and the coffee pot grumbles as the bakery begins another day.

Kenneth and Marguerite Ryan have been the original owners of The Bagelry for 31 years. Back in the bakery and dusted in flour, another married couple is gearing up to run the shop.

Western alumni, Terra and Aaron Seaton, have been longtime employees at The Bagelry, and will be taking the reins of the Bellingham bagel joint starting January 1, 2016, Kenneth Ryan said.

Current Bagelry owners Ken and Marguerite Ryan (left) stand next to the future owners Aaron and Terra Seaton (right) outside of The Bagelry on Monday, October 5. Photo by Christina Becker

The successors met at the shop and married two years ago. The shop has been known to bring people to each other, Ryan said.

“We have had eight bagel marriages,” Ryan said. It must be something in the bagels, he said.

Terra Seaton originally received a psychology major from Western in 2008. At the end of fall quarter, she anticipates her second graduation. This time, with a recreation major.

Aaron Seaton, a philosophy major, graduated from Western in 2000 and has worked as bakery manager at The Bagelry for ten years. Terra Seaton, working as the assistant bakery manager, has been at The Bagelry for six years.

Together, they run the bakery side of the business.

The Bagelry specializes in traditional style bagels, made fresh every day from scratch and served the next day, Ryan said.

“It is just time to move aside for a younger person,” Ryan said about the change in ownership.

Terra and Aaron Seaton became more intrigued as they went along, and this past June they signed, Ryan said.

Aaron Seaton said that taking over The Bagelry is a great opportunity, as well as a logical extension after working in the food industry for almost 20 years.

They know the food and will keep the tradition the same, Ryan said. They have their morals in the right place, he said.

Before landing the bakery gig, Aaron Seaton worked at Pizza Pipeline in Bellingham for five years, as well as at a bagel shop on the East Coast.

Terra Seaton has a good deal of food business savviness, having also worked as a waitress, a baker at Mambo Italiano and at other local cafes in Bellingham, she said.

Ryan and his wife, Marguerite, had other offers before talking to Terra and Aaron Seaton, Ryan said.

“It just made sense to have it be a succession and have somebody that really knew the business run the business,” Ryan said.

The Bellingham couple is ready for the challenge, and have been learning the financial side of running The Bagelry from Ryan, Aaron Seaton said.

“It is right dead smack in the middle of Bellingham. It is a little piece of history that we get to take over,” Aaron Seaton said.

Ryan plans on continuing to assist the new owners as they begin to run the business, and will only being a phone call away, Aaron Seaton said.

There is a lot of work to do before they make the transition, Ryan said.

“I am just putting my head down and going. It does not feel like I am going to be retiring,” Ryan said.

As a psychology and recreation major, she is learning how to understand and work with people, Terra Seaton said. That knowledge will help with the team building aspect of the job, she said.

Western, while also selling The Bagelry’s bagels on campus and at Zoe’s Bagels in the Wilson Library, has helped Terra and Aaron Seaton in planning on how to take over the business, Aaron Seaton said.

Terra and Aaron Seaton sought the help of Western’s Small Business Development Center, a service that Ryan has used in the years since The Bagelry opened, Aaron Seaton said.

The advisers helped the two figure out the legal terms and crunch the numbers, Aaron Seaton said.

Terra Seaton is taking a finance and budget class as part of her recreation major. the course has a lot to do with how to manage The Bagelry, she said.

“You can’t underestimate what a college education can do for you,” Aaron Seaton said.

There are many memories Ryan will remember about The Bagelry. Handing it over to Terra and Aaron Seaton is like keeping it in the family, he said.

“I know they will keep the tradition the same and the place the same, I am looking forward to the subtle changes that they make,” Ryan said.

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