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Family, tradition and Valley flavors baked in to Mamalagel’s bagels

Mamalagel’s founder Sarah Hulea said she tries to use as many local businesses as possible when creating her bagels.

[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]

CANFIELD — Sarah Hulea, with the help of her mother, Nancy Hulea, started Mamalagel’s in 2019 to fill the need for freshly made bagels in the Mahoning Valley.

Mamalagel’s is named after their signature bagel, Mamalagel, which is a twist on a traditional Romanian dish called mamaliga.

“We substitute a portion of the bread flour with cornmeal, and then there's dill in it,” Hulea said. “So that kind of pulls in my dad's side of the family. My dad, he's 100 percent Romanian. My grandparents are Romanian, and I just wanted to incorporate as much family and history as I could.”

Mamalagel’s not only focuses on family ties, but Youngstown ties as well. Hulea tries to use as many local businesses as possible when creating bagels.

“Our corn meal from our signature bagel comes from Lanterman's Mill in Millcreek Park. Penguin City [beer] is in our pretzel bagel, and our cheeses and sundried tomatoes for the Asiago and Hunky bagel come from Rulli Brothers,” she said. “A lot of fruit and veggies in the bagels come from local fruit and vegetable farmers in the area.”

Additionally, Hulea is cultivating partnerships with Modern + Pine in Youngstown to include a bag of Mamalagel’s bagels with the purchase of a charcuterie board, as well as Forestview Farmhouse in Vienna to create a Yo Brunch Bag, combining Forestview’s microgreens and eggs with Mamalagel’s bagels.

Hulea, 33, said she moved back to the area a few years ago after working in the retail industry in Columbus for 10 years and was going through a season of self-discovery when starting Mamalagel’s.

“If I wanted a bagel, you'd have to go to a grocery store, or Dunkin Donuts or Panera, and I just liked good bagels with good cream cheese,” she said. “When we thought about it initially, the whole concept was kind of foreign to us. But then once we came up with a name and the whole idea behind it, it kind of all came to fruition. I kind of wanted to try and do something with my life that meant a little bit more than just collecting a paycheck.”

Mamalagel’s bagels come in a variety of flavors, including sriracha everything, cinnamon swirl, jalapeno cheddar, buckeye and banana walnut. They are priced at $2 for a single bagel, $10 for half a dozen and $17 for a dozen.

Hulea said her goal is to have a storefront in the future, but until then Mamalagel’s bagels are available for custom order, for wholesale at Common Goods Studio and at a variety of local farmers markets and fleas between Youngstown and Akron, such as the Youngstown Flea, the North Canton Farmers Market every Wednesday and Haymaker Farmers’ Market in Kent every Saturday.

“When people say, ‘Where can I get them?’ I'm like, ‘Well, I just need like a 36-hour notice. Let me know, and we’ll meet up,’” Hulea said.

Hulea is in the process of completely revamping Mamalagel’s website to offer online ordering with various pickup locations around the Mahoning Valley in the spring.

In addition to bagels, Mamalagel’s also sells bagel chips, which Hulea said is a project her mother heads. The bagel chips cost $5 per bag and can be found at Sweet Melissa’s Good Eats and That’s a Wrap.

“[My mom’s] like, ‘I wouldn't be doing all of this if I didn't support you or think this was important to you or to me,’” Hulea said. “Even now, the chips, I feel like, that's become her thing. So I tried to help where I can, but she knows what she's doing … and it's super helpful to me when I'm busting out like 400 bagels.”

For more information or to place a custom order, email Hulea at sarah@mamalagels.com or message @mamalagelsbagels on Instagram.
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