Mike Samaha is the founder of Crown Street’s newest (and only) bagel shop—a long-time pipe dream that was realised because of the unique opportunities presented during the pandemic.
Mensch is part of the rising number of new small businesses who have taken advantage of cheapened rent to move in to coveted Sydney areas. In the middle of last year Mike was made redundant at a multinational consulting firm. He moved home, and after fruitlessly looking for similar roles, Mike realised that the time was now to begin a new venture.
“I knew that there wouldn’t be another opportunity where I could really do this—I had no obligations, I had a little bit of money saved, I thought, ‘you may as well try. It’s just as likely to succeed as it is to fail,’” Mike tells Urban Village.
“It didn’t really scare me. You just think: what is there to lose?”
So far, the gamble is paying off. Mensch sold out by 11:30am on opening weekend and people came in droves, milling around on the footpath and out onto the street. It’s exactly the response Mike was hoping for—there’s nothing like being thrown in the deep end to iron out any new business teething problems.
Above all Mike wants the staff and customers to feel like family. The hole in the wall has the makings of a neighbourhood institution with some very big ambitions, the main goals being net zero in all facets of the business by 2031, and the eventual creation of a tech platform for businesses to track perishable inventory to secure zero food waste.
Every part of the bagel packaging is compostable: if you don’t have a compost bin, return the packaging and the team will do it for you.
“The idea is to serve really lovely bagels while benefitting the community and the environment,” says Mike.
“It’s quite a simple takeaway bagel shop, but it’s actually meant to be the seed for a much larger business that does some really cool things. We want to toe that line between being highly ambitious while also never losing sight of the fact we’re a community institution that people always come to and walk away feeling warm and well fed.”
475 Crown Street