Spreading love and cream cheese at Everything Bagels

Everything Bagels. Photo by Sam Davenport.

Everything Bagels. Photo by Sam Davenport.

When East Coast transplants Matt and Pamela Parker couldn’t find a bagel to satisfy their cravings on the Peninsula, they decided to make their own. Their hobby of rolling dough in their kitchen has turned into a full-fledged business — Everything Bagels — which recently celebrated their three-year “bagel-versary.”

“We wanted to do something different and I had always known that we wanted to start a small business, but we just didn’t know which one we would want it to be,” Pamela Parker said.

Everything Bagels has both savory and sweet bagels to satisfy their customers’ cravings, like their Nutella, cream cheese and banana combination, “Going Bananas,” or their “Bagel Dog,” an Alaskan Reindeer sausage wrapped in a cheddar bacon bagel. Each week, Everything Bagels provides a special bagel and cream cheese flavor to spice things up.

“I think some folks are unsure about bagels,” Parker laughed. “If you’ve got a lot of West Coast folks that haven’t had a good, New York style bagel before, they’re a little apprehensive at first — but we convert them in the end.”

Parker has been a leading force in entrepreneurial development on the Peninsula. In March, Parker was a finalist in the Alaska Young Professionals Summit in their Alaska Entrepreneur of the Year category. When she worked at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Center, she helped found the Kenai Young Professionals group — allowing business owners to network and have meaningful discussions with other professionals.

In 2018, she helped coordinate the first Startup Week on the Peninsula — which brings entrepreneurs, community leaders and members together for a week of building Alaska’s entrepreneurial opportunities.

“I’ve noticed that Anchorage and Fairbanks also have strong or developing ecosystems, but we didn’t really have that on the Peninsula,” Parker said. “I spoke to a couple of other business owners, and we all kind of agreed that we were in our own little bubble and we didn’t have that opportunity to engage with each other in meaningful ways. We didn’t really have anything intentional going on down here in the Kenai-Soldotna area — specifically for small business owners.”

Parker is excited to assist efforts of Startup Week as the statewide co-chair, prepping for this year’s Startup Week — taking place Nov. 18-24.

As an entrepreneur, Parker says it’s absolutely necessary to make mistakes and learn from those failures. 

“We did have a second location for about eight months, and it didn’t go well and we consolidated back to one and now we’re thriving,” Parker said. “I think someone even told me before, ‘Hey, don’t do a second location just yet,’ and I was like, ‘Ah, we’ll be okay.’ And we tried it and we failed, but we learned… you have to fail and you have to fail early and you have to fail often, because if you don’t, you’re not going to learn from your mistakes and you’re not going to get better and you’re going to be able to make improvements; that’s how you grow as a business owner. It stinks, it really stinks to fail, but you learn so much from those opportunities.”

Parker says getting involved in her community really helped get her name out there, and she encourages other business owners to do the same.

“I love volunteering, I love being a part of the organizations I’m a part of, but it really helps when people recognize you. ‘Oh, Pamela Parker on Planning and Zoning — she also owns Everything Bagels. I’ve seen her out in the community, I recognize her when I go places,’ and they connect that back to the business. That’s been a really great way — especially for small businesses with a tiny, tiny marketing budget.”