Bella’s Bagels: “Baked for Boosting Happiness”


Pine Creek has a variety of lunches provided each day. Panda Express and Raising Canes are only a few of the many options students are able to order in the cafeteria. However, despite all of these tasty options, some of the most popular places to eat are not within the school, but across the street. One such restaurant is Bella’s Bagels. Jason and Michelle Stele, the owners of Bella’s Bagels, hope that, “through food, we can help people become happier.”

Jason grew up in New Jersey, so he knows what a good bagel is. “There’s a lot of memories that I had just having a bagel,” said Stele. “I would be able to get breakfast before going to school because I had a bagel shop a minute walk away from the high school and there was just this happy association with it.”

Stele is not just Bella’s Bagels owner and operator however, he is also a technologist. In his 25 years of occupation, he has, “built many software solutions for enterprises from the Department of Defense to colleges and universities, medicare, [I] have built many engineering teams that then make those products.” His wife Michelle shares a similar career path. “She supports the Space Force. She runs cybersecurity programs for assets in space so she protects GPS,” said Stele. “But when she’s at home and just making food, people love it.”

The origins of Bella’s Bagels dates back to the height of the global pandemic, COVID-19. “I had just looked at my wife one day and was like, ‘You know those great bagels you make every now and then? What do you say we go try to sell them in the Cordera Farmers Market?’” Stele recalled. Though reluctant if the idea would work, they paid the $20.00 fee to set up a table with around 100 bagels for sale. All of them sold out within two hours, and in light of their success, they were invited to attend another market. Jason and Michelle continued to attend farmers markets in the Cordera area as well as in Monument with booming success. As the farmer’s market season came to a close, they did not want to stop selling their high-demand bagels. Stele used his technology background to develop the website, “We then allowed just Cordera residents, because that’s where we live, to order bagels for a Saturday bake and delivery. So our deal was: as long as you order by Thursday night, we would then bake your bagels and I would take my car and drive house to house, [delivering bagels]” said Stele. This service became very popular, with regular customers ordering fresh bagels on a weekly basis. After about a year and a half of successful business, Stele knew that the company had to expand. Running out of a house, off of two ovens and two refrigerators could only last so long. “We knew the shopping center was being built and where we were going to take things from the house was maybe a bagel food truck,” was Stele’s original thought for expansion. Though the idea never came to fruition, the shopping center offered a new opportunity. “One day we saw that the owner of this center put their sign up with the phone number and I looked at Michelle and I was like, ‘I’m going to call this number. It can’t hurt anything.’” Though he was new to commercial real estate, “One thing led to another, the numbers made sense, and we decided, ‘Let’s just take a huge leap of faith and sign a multi-year lease.’”

Jason said that Pine Creek High School “significantly” impacted the location of their new business, seeing how many students go to the Cordera market for lunch every day. “Not only is it a wonderful community, there is a total lack of a real good bagel place anywhere near us,” said Stele. He feels that being within walking distance from Pine Creek will benefit his business “From what I’ve seen, two days ago, before all of your testing, 40 kids came in at the same time.” He said that the students are great customers, and he looks forward to working with the school “ Everybody was super chill and respectful. I cranked up the music, got the good vibe going. It was fun.” He hopes that in the future, he could partner with the high school, similar to what Fizz did, and make a Pine Creek Bagel. 

The response from the students of Pine Creek has been incredibly positive. Emmett Smith (10), who ordered a chocolate chip bagel said he enjoys, “The local and family owned aspect of the shop,” which sets Bella’s Bagels apart from other vendors. “The proximity to the school makes it great for underclassmen who can’t drive,” said Smith Barrionuevo (10) who enjoyed an asiago bagel with bacon and scallion cream recently. Ethan Cronin (10), who purchased a cinnamon and raisin bagel with cream cheese, said that, “It is a great place to eat! They have amazing and tasty bagels. The workers are really nice, too.”

When a company puts their customer’s satisfaction before all else, it is noticeable in the quality of their service, as well as the quality of their product. Stele said, “It’s important that our top priority is not to make a profit, the top priority is we love making people happy.”