A new bagel shop run entirely by formerly-homeless veterans is set to open soon in Coney Island.
On Oct. 12, Concern Housing, a non-profit that connects families with housing opportunities and support services, took the first steps towards opening Cyclone Bagels on the ground floor of Surf Vets Place, a 135-unit residential building for veterans and low-income families.
The new shop at 3003 West 21st St. will offer both full-time and part-time employment opportunities to retired service members who have experienced homelessness and difficulty finding jobs.
Concern Housing’s primary mission is to help those who have served this country, live a fulfilling life, according to Ralph Fasano, executive director for Concern.
“When people are homeless, the only thing they think about is housing. Once they get housing, they wanna do things that are fulfilling and work is one of the most fulfilling things you can do,” Fasano told Brooklyn Paper. “Cyclone Bagels can lead to successful transitions in peoples lives and improving themselves.”
James Hendon, commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services, attested to the need for rewarding employment services.
“I feel like this work comes down to every, single step we all take collectively to help our brothers and sisters get to the light and being their best selves,” he said.
This is the first time Concern Housing will open a business specifically offering jobs for veterans — a feat Hendon said helps them not only survive but thrive. Roughly 200,000 veterans live in New York City, according to city data, and 25% of them live in Brooklyn. Veterans are slightly less likely to be employed than the general population, and about 10% of the city’s vets live below the poverty line.
“You really are touching education and jobs with this evolution,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “I’m really excited for this expansion.”
Beth George, founder of an un-franchised independent business called BYOB bagels, will step in to assist with training the employees. She will use her extensive experience in the field to teach proper equipment use, cleaning and maintenance, budgeting, and other business related skills.
George has also been a licensed attorney for 31 years. She said her time in the law field actually inspired her to participate in the Coney Island project.
“I did a lot of work with distressed populations and when I saw the opportunity here, I was thrilled,” she said.
Cyclone Bagels is set to open in 2024.