Introducing the Mr. “Beans” who is changing the artisanal bagel game on Long Island.
Michael Budani, owner of the new Bean’s Bagels in St. James, ignited his passion for cooking as a child while with his “nana” in her kitchen.
“She had me rolling meatballs, making chicken parm for the holidays, just any way I could help out in the kitchen, even if it was just peeling carrots, she had me always doing something,” Budani said of his grandmother.
Family members nicknamed him “Beans” after his love for jellybeans and it just stuck.
When he turned 14, his grandfather told him he had to start looking for a job “the old-school way” by knocking on doors and creating his own opportunities.
The Massapequa native landed a gig at a local deli where he started out cutting onions and washing bacon trays, he said, Budani said. He met his mentor, Gerard Duffy of Broadway Gourmet Bagel and Deli, who inspired him to get into the food industry.
After high school, Budani attended Johnson & Wales University to study to become a chef. During his time there, he and his pals would have “Top Chef” Sunday competitions in the kitchen — in itself a learning experience, he said.
Budani also met his wife Alexa of Nesconset while away at school.
“We were having a house party ironically … and our dog bit this girl’s arm, and I was like ‘Oh, my god, this girl’s arm is broken,’” he said. “Luckily it wasn’t, I found out the girl was from Long Island and she became my future wife.”
They wed in 2019 and for a while Budani helped out Alexa’s uncle open an Irving’s Pastrami in Farmingdale.
One of Budani’s college roommates with whom he remained friendly with launched a popular bagel franchise in New Jersey called The Bagel Nook, which is known for its innovative, sweet and savory creations.
“Our bagels are always going to be different because we’re New York, I always said that to him, our water separates us from you,” Budani joked. “He didn’t want to come to New York and I told him I’d rather just do my own thing myself.”
About a year ago, an opportunity came along for Budani he couldn’t refuse: a vacant former bagel shop at 410 Lake Ave. in St. James, very close to his home.
His business partner purchased the space and they got straight to work on renovating it.
Bean’s Bagels hosted its grand opening and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 15.
“We’re unique in our own way, but the concept is modern bagels, which is extreme creativity,” he said. “I’m very passionate about food, and I follow trends.”
This includes bagel flavors like their popular “Beans Everything” bagel, a signature Doritos-encrusted bagel that visitors order with egg sandwiches or with just plain cream cheese or butter, Budani said.
Bean’s Bagels specialty bagel line-up also includes such varieties as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Fruity Pebbles, onion and garlic bialy, and rainbow. The shop also makes special cream cheeses, including birthday cake, s’mores, jalapeno cheddar, FluffaNutter and cookie dough.
Their menu also offers a wide selection of lunch options, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, paninis and french toast.
“My baker [Charlie] is just incredible, he does some crazy stuff,” Budani said. “He’s an older guy from Brooklyn, so he’s been making bagels, pastries, this and that, since he was 11 years old. He’s an old-school dude from Williamsburg.”
Budani said the St. James community has welcomed the new bagel joint with open arms and that operating on busy Lake Avenue has been ideal.
“It’s all exciting stuff, we’re happy here and what we’re really trying to do is reinvent the wheel with our cream cheese and bagels,” Budani said.
Bean’s Bagels hours are Monday to Friday, from 6 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, 6 a.m.-3 p.m.
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Top photo: Owner of Bean’s Bagels Michael Budani standing outside of his shop with a couple of rainbow bagels. Photo by Ana Borruto.