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Shug’s Is Building a North Texas Bagel Empire

Shug's CEO Justin Shugrue added a second location in 2023 and has future expansion in the works.
| |Photography Courtesy of Shug's Bagels
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Bagel Buzz: SMU grad Justin Shugrue’s first bagel shop next to his alma mater has been a big hit in the neighborhood.

New York native and Shug’s Bagels CEO Justin Shugrue hates conversations debating whether or not a bagel is an authentic “New York bagel.” He is more concerned with the experience than labels. “Is Shug’s delicious? Was the customer service nice? Was it a good time? That’s all that matters,” he says.

That sort of practical, customer-focused mindset helped Shugrue launch a bagel empire before he turned 30. In November, he added a second location on Lemmon Avenue, following the explosive success of the Mockingbird original. The company made $3 million in revenue in 2021 and is on track to exceed $6 million in 2023. 

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Shug's Everything Bagel Courtesy: Shug's Bagels

Raised in Westchester, New York, Shugrue’s passion for hospitality grew by working summers at a fine dining restaurant near his home. He followed his brother to SMU, where he majored in finance. For a time, he considered going into investment banking, but after miserable internships in the field, he knew the world of finance was not for him. After some reflection, his path became clear. “What do I have an innate ability for? What am I willing to hustle to get?” he asked himself. “It didn’t feel like work when I was in hospitality.”

After graduating from SMU in 2017, he waited tables to pay off college loans. He then returned to New York to work as an apprentice in various bagel shops, and in June 2020 he initiated a friends and family fundraise of $300,000 to launch his own bagel shop in Dallas. For a grab-and-go business like Shug’s, the pandemic was a boon. “It was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “The food writers had nothing to write about, and we were a positive story in a sea of dead restaurants.”

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Shug's Bagels CEO Justin Shugrue opened his second location on Lemmon Ave following the success of the Mockingbird shop (pictured). Courtesy: Shug's Bagels

Shug’s was an instant success. “It was light years better than I was projecting and far beyond my wildest dreams,” Shugrue says. “I had champagne problems.”

Growth has forced the young entrepreneur to delegate more, as he focuses on the big picture. Shugrue, who says the two locations are doing similar revenue numbers, is resisting another fundraise, but he is eyeing several DFW neighborhoods for future expansion. “We want slow, purposeful growth,” Shughrue says. “Every step of the way, we want to make sure that we don’t deviate from having an excellent product and that customers are happy.”

Author

Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…
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