By JESSICA WRIXON
Sitting around small green tables at 6:30 a.m. is the usual crowd of early birds that come into the only bagel shop in Bogota to spend their mornings before work. Among them, Joe ‘Cass’ Cassiopa of Ridgefield Park enjoys his morning coffee and mini bagel with butter. A regular at the Boxcar Bagel and Deli, Cass sits back and watches the rush of the off again-on again crowd that makes their way into the little shop, all the while conversing with incoming customers and the employees.
“I’ve came and sat here with my coffee and breakfast every morning for the past ten years, and I usually wind up coming back an hour or two before closing,” said Cass. “We’re so used to seeing each other everyday that we’ve actually become a family in a way. I don’t know what I would do with my mornings if we didn’t have Boxcar.”
Known for their massive bagels and good service, the Bogota-based Boxcar Bagel and Deli has been satisfying customers from all over the United States for the past 18 years. The small business, opened by Linda and Michelle DeCarlo, attracts its share of customers from visiting locals, to employees on their lunch break, and past customers who stop by to grab a bagel to curb their cravings. Boxcar offers their customers 13 different varieties of bagels, baking over 250 of them a day. Along with the bagels, Boxcar also serves a variety of spreads, hot sandwiches and deli sandwiches that keeps the customers coming back for more.
Ross Wagner, a daily customer, makes his way into Boxcar every day between 10 and 11 a.m. Wagner, who orders a taylor ham, egg and cheese, along with a soda, spends around $6 on lunch every day.
“I’ve been coming here everyday since this place opened,” said Wagner, a Ridgefield Park native who has been a long-time patron of Boxcar. He always stays to talk to the employees and visiting customers while he waits for his food in the morning.
“The food is great, the people are nice, and the portions are huge,” Wagner said. “There’s always someone that wants to start a conversation with you here and I love that.”
Thomas Walsh, Boxcar’s bagel baker, has the hardest job in the store. Getting into work at 2 a.m., Walsh starts to prepare the store and the food for the busy day that lies ahead. During the day, he bakes extra bagels that are running low, takes customers orders when it’s busy, answers the phone, makes deliveries and stops at Restaurant Depot for needed supplies.
“I get into work at 2 a.m., mainly because I like to work slow. All the bagels are rolled the day before so when I go in I have to put them in the boiler, add any fixins they may have and then put them in the industrial sized oven and wait for them to bake. I usually bake about 100 bagels before the doors are open to the customers.” Walsh said. Walsh works at Boxcar 6 days a week with only Monday as a day off. “It’s hard to work six days a week at such early hours but the customers make it worthwhile. When it gets to be a little too overwhelming over time we close the store for a week so I can have a little vacation.”
Boxcar Bagel and Deli is located at 10 River Rd., Bogota, N.J. and are open every day of the week except for Mondays. Contact Boxcar at (201)-343-4644 during their open hours.