Ferndale trio starts new bagel business in middle of COVID-19 pandemic

Joe Penn, Dan Lenz, Devon Malloy start business during pandemic

Ferndale trio starts bagel business during COVID-19 pandemic

FERNDALE, Mich. – The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic doesn’t seem like the right time to launch a new business. Over the past five months, many small businesses have battled just to survive -- but what if the opportunity presents itself?

In the case of Tov Bagels, it required a fair amount of courage, determination and great recipes.

“It really started as having fun baking bagels,” cofounder Joe Penn said.

Some might argue that’s not a compelling enough reason to try to start a business. Penn, Dan Lenz and Devon Malloy were housemates with a great hobby, and they all had real jobs.

At first, the idea of starting a business seemed foolish. Friends and family members counseled them on what a terrible idea it was to think about starting a small business during the shutdown.

But the three cofounders believed in themselves and their bagels. They got involved with a craft beer hub in Ferndale called The Ferndale Project, where they bake. It’s one of two locations where they sell their bagls.

“People love bagels, and there just aren’t enough in the city,” Penn said.

The bagels were a hit, and their business grew. It became clear that one of them would have to take the leap, quit his job and devote their full time to the bagel business.

“It felt kind of crazy to be going out on my own,” Lenz said.

The biggest question nagging at them: Why not wait for a better time to start a business? They said it’s because there’s a chance that perfect moment would never come.

In a way, the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic helped their business because they worked day and night, and having a social life was impossible either way.

One thing they all agreed on: It takes a village, even to sell bagels. They have two locations: one in Ferndale and the other in Detroit. Click here to visit the company’s website.

About the Authors:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.