Welcome to the occasional series that spotlights businesses in Tolland. First up is Between Rounds, the newest franchise for the a sandwich and bakery business located on Merrow Road, which also has locations in Manchester, Vernon and South Windsor.
Patch emailed co-owner Jerry Pulia several questions about how and when he got his business up and running in town.
Patch: When did your business open?
We opened Between Rounds in July 1990.
Patch: Is it family-run?
The business is family run. It is an equal partnership between my brother Joe and me. My wife Laurie and son Christopher work in the business as does my brothers' daughter Jessica.
Patch: Please list the names of the owners and your role with the company.
My brother Joe is responsible for all bagel production (we manufacture bagels for our own retail stores as well as numerous local supermarkets and school systems), as well as managing the South Windsor location.
I am responsible for the Vernon and Manchester retail stores as well as promoting our franchise growth and working with new franchisees. Additionally, I work with advertising and promoting the business.
Patch: What made you decide to open your business?
My wife and I decided to open the first store in Vernon back in 1990 after my brother Joe and father Vito opened a store in Hoboken, NJ. Their store was so successful that being from New York and not having any bagel shops in the area, I saw an opportunity. A year later, my brother Joe moved here and together, we started growing the business. (My father has since passed away).
Patch: What makes you passionate about what you do?
What makes me passionate about what I do, is knowing that our bagels and for that matter all the items we sell are of such good quality and, taste so good, that people now recognize the name (Between Rounds) and will go out of their way to come to our stores.
Prior to this past storm, we were so busy because some people wanted to be sure they had Between Rounds bagels in case they were snowed in. I am proud of the fact that supermarkets such as Highland Park Market, Geissler’s Supermarket, West Side Market and others advertise our bagels by name in their bakeries. I am proud of the fact that my brother Joe won't let any bagels get by him if they are not perfect. That's how much this business means to us.
Patch: Why did you decide to open the business in South Windsor?
We opened in South Windsor because both my brother and I lived in the town and love the town. My brother still lives in town. Additionally, the Modugno's who owned the wood shop that was there for years knew we loved the location and worked with us to afford to buy the property. It is hard to believe that that was over 20 years ago.
Patch: Where else are your stores located?
We have other stores in Manchester (The Plaza at Buckland Hills-1540 Pleasant Valley Road), Vernon (243 Hartford Turnpike - Bank of America Plaza) and [our newest franchise location South Windsor (John Fitch Blvd.). This newest location in Tolland] owned by Sami Kahn is a test location for future non-traditional locations.
Patch: Do you have a business mantra you live by?
Business Mantra - I believe in the 2% difference- You need to be 2% better than your competition in EVERY area - Food quality. Customer Service, Cleanliness, Consistency.
Patch: Can you tell us about your business background? Any notable awards?
My business background - BS Aerospace Engineering, MS Mechanical Engineering, MBA Management - 6 years as an engineer with Pratt & Whitney, 2 years as a professional recruiter, 21+ years with Between Rounds.
Patch: Finish the sentence. When I'm not working I'm...
When I'm not working, I am watching my son play baseball and helping him excel at the sport as well as cheering my daughter on as she becomes quite an accomplished figure skater. I could not be more proud of my kids as they apply themselves 100 percent to doing what they love. Time spent with your kids is priceless as they sure do grow up fast. I can't believe it but I am now looking at colleges with my son.
Patch: What’s the most popular item on your menu?
The most popular item on the menu is our breakfast sandwiches. They are made with real eggs and feature ham, bacon, sausage, and of course several varieties of cheese. Currently we are featuring breakfast sandwiches made with Portobello mushrooms that are my favorite.
Patch: What’s the oddest request that someone asked that you make?
The oddest request we had was to create a baby carriage out of bagel dough, bake it and stuff it with meats and cheeses. It looked awesome as a centerpiece and fed quite a few people. My brother is very creative when it comes to making these unique items.
Patch: What's the most rewarding thing about what you do?
The most rewarding thing about what I do is knowing that each day people are enjoying our food.