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Bagels entice early risers

Sam Stryker | Sunday, January 23, 2011

Braving the bitter cold and early wake up call, several Notre Dame students joined local residents in waiting in line at the opening of an Einstein Bros. Bagels location in South Bend. For those who braved the elements, the wait was worth it, as they walked away with a year’s worth of free food.

Senior Jessica Spiewak said though the bagel franchise advertised the first 100 people in line would win free breakfast for the year, Einstein Bros. Bagels is not limiting the promotion just to the first meal of the day.

“[They gave us] a booklet of coupons and you rip off each one when you go. There are 52, so you can use one a week for a year or whenever you want,” she said. “They only work at this location.”

Senior Nate Anderson said he got to the store with friends early to beat the crowds.

“We didn’t go to bed,” he said. “We got there at 2:30 to scope it out, and we got in line at 4:15.”

Anderson said the novelty of waiting outside combined with the pull of free food convinced him and his friends to participate in the promotion.

“Me and my friends thought it would be fun to wait in the cold,” he said. “Free breakfast sandwiches sounded good, so we thought we would give it a shot.”

Spiewak, whose group of friends led the line, said the group tried to have some fun during the cold wait.

“We were the first five in line. The guys smoked cigars, so it was fun,” she said. “It was pretty cold, but they brought out free coffee which helped.”

Senior Vince Montalbano, who waited in line with Spiewak’s group, said standing in the cold with such a large group of people was in itself a fun experience.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, but we made friends with the people in line next to us, and a couple of local television stations stopped by,” he said.

Anderson said he and his friends tried to do anything fun to keep their minds off the freezing temperature, including leading chants and singing popular songs.

“We substituted bagel or breakfast sandwich into the lyrics. [We did] anything to take [our] minds off the fact it was below zero.”

Spiewak said the event seemed to draw a wide array of customers.

“I heard at one point there were 115 people in line,” she said. “There was a good mix of Notre Dame kids, high schoolers and local adults.”

Spiewak also said the novelty of the promotion has drawn her back to the store several times.

“We waited in line from 4:15 until 6:30 when it opened, so the first thing we did was eat breakfast,” she said. “We went to sleep right after. It is super close to where I live, and I didn’t feel like making anything and I wanted a free sandwich, so I went back.”

Anderson said while the store may not have a strong customer base yet, he thinks the promotion might spark some long-term interest in the bagel store amongst Notre Dame students.

“In terms of awareness, I think it has done all right. I first heard about it at midnight that night. One hundred people now have this promotion, so word of mouth will spread throughout the year,” he said. “I talked to the manager briefly, and it seems like they do this [promotion] with all their stores.”

Montalbano also said he thought the store would prove popular with students. He said he has noticed the new location drawing some interest from the student body.

“I think people hear about something like that and they want to know more. I’ve seen kids using the free Internet there like in Starbuck’s,” Montalbano. “There is a lot of space.”

Spiewak said despite the bitter cold and the long wait early in the morning, the experience was well worth the effort.

“The big part is it is so close, so it is useful. Anything free is great, and worth it to me,” she said. “We waited in line for two hours and got 200 dollars worth of food, so when you break it down we made 100 dollars an hour.”