A mission to bring "damn good" bagels to Troy

Psychedelicatessen Laura Kerrone

Laura Kerrone

By Lauren Hittinger

Laura Kerrone is on a mission to bring New York-style bagels to Troy.

Since moving here three years ago, Kerrone has been disappointed with she says is a lack of authentic bagels. That's why she wants to bring her "damn good recipe" to life through a new shop, The Psychedelicatessen, in downtown Troy.

Psychedelicatessen bagel bus Idaho
The Psychedelicatessen bus in Idaho.

This isn't Laura Kerrone's first bagel venture. She originally opened a bagel shop in Idaho Falls, during a self-described "post-divorce crisis." Unfortunately, her start-up business plans coincided with the economic downturn in 2008. With equipment on the way, the bank pulled funding, and Kerrone was forced to open her shop in a converted basement room in her house.

Eventually Kerrone raised enough funds to purchase an old school bus, which she converted into a deli. Business was good, but Kerrone needed more funds to bring her business to the next level and have a permanent retail location. That's where New York comes into play.

Psychedelicatessen bagel bus Idaho making bagels Laura Kerrone
Making bagels in Idaho.

Kerrone, who was in the the Navy for eight years, took a job as an instructor in nuclear propulsion at a facility in Schenectady. When she headed east she intended to eventually return to Idaho, but after a few weeks here she wanted to stay in the Capital Region instead.

"Being in the military, I got to experience a lot of cultures, but this area caught me," says Kerrone. "I'm an outdoor nut, so I enjoy the four real seasons. I also like the complete diversity here. No single political, religious, or ethnic group dominates, and people are just people."

After Kerrone saved up enough capital to open up a bagel business again, she started scouting locations.

"I originally wanted to be in downtown Albany, but my realtor was pushing for Troy." Kerrone found what she considers the perfect spot for The Psychedelicatessen in the Dauchy Building on River Street in downtown Troy, which is being renovated by the Bonacio Construction. "I can't think of a better location for my business."

Dauchy Building space for bagel shop
The Dauchy Building in downtown Troy.

Construction on the space started and Kerrone left her full-time position. Then things took a turn for the worse. Kerrone had been buying equipment over the last few years, but the bagel oven she had been planning to rely on turned out to be "old and busted" and would need a $20,000 repair in order for it to be functional. The situation has been made more difficult by the fact that Kerrone is having trouble securing a small business loan.

Kerrone jokes about her own bad business luck, "I think I have a hex on me." Even so, she remains very upbeat and committed to staying in the Dauchy Building location. Presently Kerrone is seeking out alternative funding options and has a GoFundMe campaign. In the meantime, construction on her downtown Troy shop has stopped.

"I can't quit," Kerrone says. "The bagels are real bagels, and that's hard to find around here. It's a third generation Jewish recipe. It's a damn good recipe and no one around here is using it."

Earlier on AOA:
+ Bread and Honey
+ Albany Bagel Co.

first three photos courtesy of Laura Kerrone

Find It

The Psychedelicatessen (planned)
275 River Street
Troy, NY 12180

Comments

I'm tried of seeing people using crowd funding to support their for profit endeavors. Like that bakery in Troy that started a crowd fund because they "forgot" to pay their electric bill for 6 months.

Ridiculous.

Crowdfunding may seem like a more systematic way of asking for handouts, but the bottom line is that it works. A good percentage of people are more than willing to give to for-profit endeavors expecting nothing in return.

If I can give someone $20, knowing that there's a decent chance that:
- I will get a free lunch in return,
- I will have a reliable, local source of real bagels,
- I will be helping to bring a new business to downtown Troy, which supports the revival of downtown and boosts Troy's economy,

then I'd say that's $20 well spent.

On another note, if this trend of sophistication in coffee and bagel culture continues, I'll have no reason to move back downstate.

What style of bagels are you doing? NYC or Montreal? I like one not the other . . . .

Agree with "Shocked" that this seems to be the big trend these days: ask for money to be handed over so that the proprietor can acquire the capital assets needed for them to make money on the original investment YOU made. (Nothing against this particular individual. And certainly seeking funding this way, for these reasons, isn't as ridiculous as forgetting to have paid a power bill for months. Not all businesses survive, and that's for a reason.)

Why not just look for local investors, Shark Tank style? Someone (or multiple someones) would want 5-10% of this for the right dollar amount (or needed capital asset), which would provide said needed capital while also not just being a straight donation.

Make an appointment for business counseling at the Small Business Development Center. It's free -for real. They will help you write a business plan & get your startup in shape. Go to www.nyssbdc.org . (full disclosure: I used to work there.)

Not speaking to this situation specifically, there are still some issues that are being sorted out about crowdfunding. And the "What is the nature of this contribution -- investment/helpful push/donation?" question is one of them. An extreme recent example: Oculus, the virtual reality company that raised $2 million on Kickstarter -- and then sold for $2 billion.

Another aspect of this issue is the availability of credit to small businesses. I've heard from a handful of small business owners in the area that banks have become much more reluctant to loan money to small businesses over the last few years.

Of course, that's anecdotal, and I'd like to see a more comprehensive review of local small business lending before drawing any sort of broad conclusion. But if it's true, it might point to one of the reasons people have turned to crowdfunding. And it might also highlight a way economic development orgs in this area could work to help better spur small business development.

As long as the facts are accurately disclosed, there is nothing wrong with an entrepreneur seeking crowd funding. We all benefit greatly when a new business opens in the Capital District and succeeds.

Ms. Kerrone should have her business plan in order. A multitude of non-profit organizations should stop funding their bloated administrations with the charitable contributions they accept. And banks should be more supportive of small business, especially businesses owned by military veterans.

I hope to be the first in line to buy one Ms. Kerrone's "damn good" bagels. Good luck to her.

Whatever happened to the guys who wanted to bring NYC bagels to Albany last summer? They had delicious bagels that they sold at the Farmer's Market in Albany and all proceeds went to charity. Would love to see them resurface!

FWIW, the bakery in Troy that didn't get/pay the electric bill for 6 months was selling gift certificates to raise money to pay the balance. The full amount paid was available to use in-store, which is different from crowd sourced funding like this venture which offers incentives for different monetary tiers.

Thanks for the kind words, Katelyn! We're still around, just laying low for a while. We don't have any plans for resurfacing, yet, but it's a constant topic of conversation for all of us. Needless to say, when we decide to start things up again we will let everyone know!

I don't see why all the hate for crowd sourcing. What's the difference between begging a bank for money or going straight to the public. Between the democratization of many features of society via the internet and the significant plunge in public respect for bankers (fair or not) due to the 2008 financial crisis, this is just another game changer that society must absorb into its norms. I'm a huge supporter of crowd sourcing, believing that it brings potential businesses closer to their consumers or allows folks like myself to fund companies/initiatives I support (like that new bakery down the street). I think for both the business and the lender (who is often the consumer), it puts a story and face to each other, building a much stronger relationship that can give the lendee a leg up, something a faceless banker can't often do for a business (too busy burrying their head into their risk algorithms).

With that said, there will always be downsides, like the potential abuses that can occur, which laws and culture must catch up to; but all part of the process when the economy restructures itself.

One of the downsides of crowdfunding a venture that doesn't yet exist is that you take on all of the risks of being an investor without the advantages. You also get the risks of pre-ordering something at retail without the consumer protections that come with that.

If you back a company that goes on to sell for many times its original capitalization, like Oculus Rift, you don't get the return on the money that you put up that an investor would. At the same time, if expect to get an item as a backer incentive and the project fails or the company folds, you're out that money. If they take a year to produce anything when they promised to ship within six months, you're giving them an interest-free loan for a year. No bank will do that.

For a venture that you really care about, that doesn't matter all that much. Backers were treating Kickstarter very much like a store for a while, though, and that soured a lot of people on the concept.

When crowdfunding works, it can be really fab. The problem is that most people who back or start campaigns don't really understand what it is.

Interesting article about the taxability of crowdsourced funds

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/13/us-column-feldman-crowdfunding-taxes-idUSBRE87C0F120120813

I can't wait for this! I totally support this and will be a great addition to the community!

I'm not at all surprised with the popularity of crowd sourcing. Banks are extremely reluctant to give out small business loans, unless the entrepreneur already has a large amount of capital. You won't have any problem getting a loan if you're already a wealthy established business or individual, but if you're a middle class person with some money saved up and some equipment, the banks won't touch you. Ask around.

Best of luck to Mrs. Kerrone

For the love of FSM, I hope these bagels are delicious. I've driven all over the Capital Region, and to several new "NY Style" bagel shops that have popped up recently, only to be hugely disappointed.

I think a huge benefit to crowd funding is that your small business aren't going be giving investors a percentage of their company. Sure, there's the 'risk' of not getting anything in return but I think most people who support through crowd funding aren't doing it to get something in the end. People want to support things they believe in. I'm sure I personally have spent money in much more wasteful ways then supporting a small business. Laura has the drive and determination to succeed - and if crowd funding helps her get started, I think that it is great

I find it hard to understand the backlash against crowdfunding. For one, it's the easiest thing in the world to not participate in, so if you don't support the project, don't support it. For another, do you get to have an opinion about any other business's financing structure? Do you worry about how Stewart's raises its capital and defeases its debt? And for a third, just TRY to get a loan for a small business that isn't a franchise these days. It's extremely difficult; lenders are only lending to things they're familiar with.

There used to be another form of crowdfunding, which was local banks. We all put money into them, and they invested in the community. Everybody prospered. That's gone, with just a few exceptions. I can't undrstand why people would want NOTHING to take its place.

In the meantime, Troy just keeps getting better.

Best wishes on your bagel adventure, Laura! I look forward to enjoying a bagel when I am next in Troy (or the time after that... .)!

Hi there! Thanks for all the encouraging words!
Yeah, crowdfunding has a bad rap because people have abused the system. It's too bad, because it casts the program in a negative light. As a few have pointed out, getting a loan is extremely difficult. In the eyes of every financial institution I've talked to, I'm a startup, despite doing this for almost 3 years in another state. That 'startup' label puts me into a super high risk category, and makes it difficult to even find someone to work with me, much less lend what I need.
To answer/address a few questions - they are NY bagels. Made using a very traditional jewish recipe, and boiled, and not the size of your head. I'll be using as much local, organic, and non-GMO ingredients as I possibly can, making traditional salted lox, as well as grass fed deli roast beef, in house.
I'm still at least a month out - there's still a lot of work to be done on my space, plus getting everything installed, tested, and employees trained, etc etc. In the meantime, I recommend Bagels n Bakes in Rotterdam, or Lox of Bagels in Glens Falls - both have delicious and real-deal bagels. (Hi there Albany Bagels - I didn't know you existed! I would have been talking to you a while ago!)
I hope to see you in my shop, I hope you love my bagels, and I can't wait to be a part of downtown Troy!

Something tells me this will be a shining star in downtown Troy... and it will be as much about the fantastic bagels, as it will about the folks who run it... based on what I read above.

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