Baking his own success
Ruben Gomez often came home after 2 a.m., clothes torn from scratches all over his body after long nights as a bouncer at Far West, the infamous nightclub that used to keep what is now the Arboretum Village busy until the wee hours. He wasn’t worried about his own safety; he could handle himself, but the long hours and violence were taking a toll.
His uncle, a shift leader at Benny’s Bagels Lakewood, said he could get Gomez a job in 2011. Even though he had never even tried a bagel, he took it.
Gomez was familiar with the area. He grew up on Oram, just down the street from Benny’s, and attended Robert E. Lee, J.L. Long and Woodrow Wilson. When he was a teenager, he dropped out of high school to help his mother pay the bills.
When he started at Benny’s, Gomez washed dishes but was a quick learner. He watched his uncle place bulk orders, make sandwiches and lead the staff. He saw his future at the bagel shop.
Eventually, Gomez became shift leader himself, and the owner realized that he didn’t need to check in very often. From accounting and payroll to running the register and dealing with customers, Gomez had mastered every aspect of the business. He told his co-workers that one day he’d own the business, and this fall he received his opportunity.
In the six years Gomez worked at Benny’s, sales more than doubled, making ownership even more enticing. The former owner saw Gomez’s potential and offered him a deal to owner-finance the purchase of the bagel shop.
When he had enough money saved, the owner drew up a contract. “I am living the American dream,” Gomez says.
These days, he lives in the neighborhood with his wife and three children, and wakes up at 3:30 every morning to start baking bagels. As a former employee, he seeks to be a supportive owner.
“The first thing I did was I took care of my workers,” he says, noting that he couldn’t have any success without happy employees. “I gave everyone a raise, and anytime they need a loan, or something for their kids, I help them.”
Gomez’s new goal is to own all of the Benny’s in Dallas one day.
Benny’s is about more than just bagels, even though it sells hundreds of “everything” bagels, the top seller, each day. They have sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, and include unique toppings such as salmon, roast beef and vegetarian options.
Gomez wants to maintain the successful formula he has worked to create in the cozy space over the last six years, priding himself on customer service.
“We will see them pull up, know their car, by the time they walk in the door we are almost done with their order,” he says. “All of our regulars, they don’t even have to order.”
Benny’s Bagels Lakewood
Ambience: Neighborhood Diner
Price Range: $3-$7
Hours: 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Did you know: The name Benny’s comes from the original owner’s bulldog.
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