Please tell me about your background and your business?
Craig: Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Home of the best bagels in the world. My family has been in the bakery business for at least five generations, over a hundred years.
I treasured growing up and going to the bakery with my grandfather and my father and just watching how things were made. Starting from flour and ending up in beautiful, tasteful treats and I was very much drawn to the aromas of fresh baked items.
Laurie: I was born and raised in Brooklyn until I was about ten years old. Then we moved to Bayside.
So did you start working young?
Craig: Absolutely. I would take the bus and go to work from ten years old on. That’s how I got extra money. You know, I stopped asking my parents for money at the age of thirteen. I’m not saying I was independent, but I never got an allowance. Back then if you wanted something, you went to work for it. That sort of thing. I’m actually doing that with my grandchildren now. We have two grandsons from California that come for the month of July. They go camping, and when they are not in camp they are here at Goldberg’s, helping out. I give them achievable goals so that they could earn some extra money.
I didn’t go into the food business. My first career was manufacturing ladies apparel. At age twenty-three I had my own company and I sold it a couple decades later. That was a big company. We had over a hundred employees.
That is amazing. Was the manufacturing business in Brooklyn?
Craig: No, it was actually in Manhattan. They call it the Garment District. After I sold it, I went to work in the financial district and I really did not like it nor enjoyed it. Meanwhile, we would come out in the summers and keep our boat at the Bath and Tennis in Westhampton Beach. So I got to know the town really well. I really loved how close it was to the city and how understated and wonderful the town truly was. It was a small town that reminded me of the Mayberry Show. It was an old tv show about a small town, just like Westhampton Beach, you know, where everybody knows everybody.
Westhampton Beach was much smaller than it is now, correct?
Craig: Oh yeah, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the proximity, the easy commute and the wonderful environment and the magnificent beaches.
When we found that this business was for sale, Laurie and I decided to leave Manhattan and go for the adventure. We were enjoying living in Manhattan and we were concerned about the slower pace environment, but we absolutely love living here. We love the local people, the summer folks that come out.
Laurie: Craig was kind of between things. He wanted to do something new. When we came into this place it was a husband and a wife that was running it. The wife really got me interested in, because she was the one running it and she was saying how gratifying it was.
That’s nice that you can relate to the summer visitors because you used to be one. So how long have you had Goldberg’s Bagels open?
Craig: Three years. Goldbergs has been open for about nine years, maybe more. We kept the name, all the good recipes and then, of course, we looked to add new wonderful dishes. We added health conscious, vegetarian options.
Do you cook for yourself and your family?
Craig: Sometimes. I must tell you, Laurie is an excellent cook. I’m a better sous chef. All our girls are great cooks and bakers. I don’t know if I had an influence in there, but I know their mom definitely did.
Laurie: I used to (laughs). I don’t really cook anymore. I like to cook but I really don’t get the opportunity, because when I go home from here, I really don’t feel like dealing with food that much.
What are your favorite three dishes?
Craig: I’m a very good eater. I’m going to say our store-roasted turkey. I also love omelets. There might be more than three (laughs). Slow braised short ribs. I make them really well. Laurie lets me do that. I have to say I also love our Hampton Fluff, our dessert. It is a light marble pound cake with cream cheese.
Laurie: I love our homemade dinners. They all start from scratch, and our chef makes the most delicious tomato sauces, dressings, and gravies. He makes everything taste completely homemade and very delicious.
When you are at home or someone else cooks for you, do people feel pressured to cook you something fancy because you are a restaurant owner?
Craig: Not my kids (laughs). Some people, yes absolutely. They apologize before they serve food, which I hate. You know, its like I’m sure it’s good, they seem to be surviving on their own, but sometimes they feel pressure.
What is Goldberg’s best seller?
Craig: Bacon, egg, and cheese. When I go to other restaurants I’m always measuring and engaging. I like to think that I’m pretty objective about it. In my family, my mom and my two sisters, there were three different bakeries sometimes, sitting around the table. My uncles, my grandfather, my father and they would all bring something for dessert. They all thought theirs was the best, so I used to laugh because they were never really objective about it. I like to think that I’m pretty objective but I must confess, most times I truly believe that ours is as good or better.
You know, bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll. It is a simple sandwich, but we buy the best quality food we can. I’m not interested in saving pennies when it comes to that stuff. I’m against waste, but I buy the best cheese. It melts better and we give generous portions of cheese. We don’t slice it very thin so that it dissipates. We also use the best bacon we can buy, which I believe ends up in people saying that our bacon egg and cheese sandwiches are the best. It is not by accident.
I agree. What is your most favorite and most popular bagel?
Craig: For me, everything flagel is a treat. Still, the most popular bagel that we sell is the plain bagel.
Laurie: No doubt it’s a cinnamon raisin. When you top it with walnut raisin cream cheese, it is very delicious. Definitely my favorite.
Interesting. Personally, my favorite bagel is the pumpernickel. Is that a popular choice?
Craig: I love the pumpernickel too! To me, that’s also like a treat and strangely enough, it’s not the most popular one. It has such a great flavor to it.
What are the advantages of this form of business ownership?
Craig: The advantages are always about being your own boss. It is interesting. Laurie and I are a people persons. People people. We love people, we really like our customers. I think we have the nicest customers. It’s like coming to work and seeing our friends that come in. We have so many repeat customers, I know we are doing it right.
We get so much kindness. At the end of the season, we have people coming in, they bring flowers. More to Laurie than me (laughs). They are always so appreciative and this is where they come.
They come in the morning and in the afternoons and hopefully now for dinners. They come here and it is essentially a meeting place as well. People see each other, they know who is here and who is not, what are you doing tonight, what are you doing this weekend, where you are going, whats new, whats old, hows the family. It is a wonderful thing. I very much like being a part of it. We have customers that come in and share intimate details of their life while paying at the register, you know. And I appreciate that they feel that good about it.
Laurie: You get to meet a lot of people. You make a lot of friends, you make people happy, get to know everybody in the area. It is very rewarding. We made so many wonderful friendships.
What books have you read that influenced you the way you approach business?
Craig: “Secret Service” by John R. DiJulius. It is written by a gentleman, who had some of the most successful hair salons and it really was customer-centric. I had a lot of those natural instincts anyway, but that’s what it has to be. It has to be customer-centric. We have to make sure that they are happy, that they had a good experience here. We never like to think that they came to Goldberg’s as a default rather as a choice. That is just our philosophy and it is always about the customer. A successful business has a good location but really, you have to have a good product. That’s what keeps people coming back. My son-in-law’s father, who is actually an oral surgeon gave me this book.
Laurie: It is the book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
Have any of your customers become your friends?
Craig: Oh yes, absolutely. It’s unfortunate that we are so busy in the summer that at the end of the day it’s the end of the day, number one. Number two, thank god we have such a big family that is always out visiting, but the point I’m getting to is that we have customers, that we would like to go to dinner, socialize with, they ask us, we ask them and it’s too limited. We either don’t have the time or the energy. But, absolutely, we have made some lovely friends.
Whom do seek advice from for your business?
Laurie: We definitely seek advice from one another, but we also have a very good friend of ours who we trust.
Craig: He is one of the brightest people that I have ever met.
What are the three tips for running a successful restaurant/deli?
Craig: Obviously good location, quality and customer service. I can’t say what’s more important than the other. You know, I used to think that its location, location, location, but growing up and being in Manhattan, people find you when you are good. They seek you out and they don’t mind going to an odd space these days, to experience something wonderful. So meanwhile it doesn’t hurt for a deli to be in a conveniently located area, you have to be good. You have to be good, my expression is “be good or be gone.” You have to be good or you will be gone. No doubt.
Laurie: You must like people. It is like you are on a stage, you have to be constantly performing with a smile. And you must always make a customer feel more important than you.
Craig, would “be good or be gone” be your favorite quote/motto?
Craig: Yes, it’s up there (laughs).
What about yours, Laurie, do you have a favorite quote/saying?
Laurie: Yes, I do. It’s “I’m easily satisfied with the very best,” by Winston Churchill.
What is your number one goal for your business?
Craig: It is to maintain and grow the business while making people happy.
Laurie: Success. One of my goals is for this place to be able to bring Westhampton together and to life. I want people to be comfortable here and to know that we are here and that we are going to give them the best we have.