Kristin “Kelly” Conner has been working at Fa Nagle The Bagel in Long Branch, since her father opened shop in the early 90’s. Her brother Scott Attaway was in charge of managing the shop back then. Kristin, who from this point on will be referred to as Kelly since that is how everyone knows her, was attending high school in those days.
Raised and still residing in Oceanport, Kelly is now married with two boys and a girl of her own and a stepson. With a son playing football for and a daughter who cheers for Shore Pop Warner, Kelly’s schedule is very much booked.
In addition, since Scott purchased the bagel business from his father, Kelly moved into the role of managing the shop. Like her father, Kelly treats all of her employees like family. As a matter of fact, brothers Roberto and Javier Flores, who both work the counter and work with the dough, are sons of the weekend baker at the shop.
“My dad taught me to look someone in the eye,” Kelly explained, as she tells me that 80 percent of her principles came from her dad. This also carries over into raising a very close-knit family.
“I can do every aspect of the business,” Kelly stated. “I bake, handle operations, work the counter and the grille. Pork Roll is the most popular breakfast item, while Chicken Salad is the most requested lunch order. The strangest order we ever had was Pork Roll, Ham, Cheese, Sausage and Egg.”
“… on a Poppy Seed Bagel,” continued Roberto.
Other bagels usually offered are Plain, Onion, Garlic, Sesame, Salt, Egg, Pumpernickel, Blueberry, Cinnamon Raisin, Honey Whole Wheat, Everything and Pumpernickel Rye. They even offer Mini Bagels as a special order.
The salads are made fresh in-house, while the meats are Boar’s Head. Some of the various items on the menu include Egg Salad, Pastrami, Whitefish Salad, Nova Lox & Cream Cheese, Cheese Omelet, Oven Roasted Turkey and Roast Beef. Muffins and Croissants are also an option. With a selection of American Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Monterey Jack Cheese, Mozzarella, Muenster, Provolone and Swiss, one can really go to town with their omelet.
With a few tables and stools at the counter, Fa Nagle’s business is mostly take-out.“My dad still comes in everyday,” continued Kelly. “He would notice the only cobweb in the place,” which translates into never finding one!
As far as customers go, Fa Nagle definitely has its regulars. “I’ve watched my customers’ kids grow up,” added Kelly.
According to Kelly, business is doing well in spite of the recession. “The kids really enjoy working here,” Kelly offered. Roberto confirmed that they often come into the shop on their day off. It became apparent during our conversation that Kelly is looked upon as a mother-figure by her employees. Roberto even told me that she is a great person to talk to if they have a problem.
Fa Nagle is also keeping up with the ever-changing bagel business as they now steam and bake their bagels in a Revent oven. This is much more economical than the old-fashioned rotating oven.
Why has Kelly remained in Oceanport? “I like the town because everyone knows everybody,” explained Kelly. “It’s quiet and safe for the kids.”
With her father John Bonforte being a big influence on Kelly, is he also responsible for keeping everyone together? “Actually, it’s my mother Barbara who brings everyone together,” answered Kelly.
Fa Nagle The Bagel is open Monday thru Friday from 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. They can be reached at (732) 571-0066.