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12 Bagel Flavors + 12 House-Made Cream Cheeses Blended Daily at Clive Breakfast, Brunch Spot

5 Borough Bagels Startup

February 1, 2023


During the latest Small Business & Startup Stories DSM podcast, Toney and Sarah Chem, Co-Owners of 5 Borough Bagels (13435 University Ave., Clive), discussed their Greater Des Moines (DSM) business and entrepreneurial journey with Greater Des Moines Partnership Small Business and Member Support Manager Emily McLain. 5 Borough Bagels serves up New York-style bagels, cream cheese flavors like “Cucumber Dill,” “Honey Walnut” and “Jalapeno” and coffees, lattes and a variety of lemonades.

About 5 Borough Bagels

The Chems began 5 Borough Bagels eight years ago. Toney, originally from Pella, and Sarah, who grew up in New York moved to DSM after Sarah struggled to find work after graduating. She was ready for a new life, so they packed up a U-Haul and drove to Pella from Queens. As the couple reminisced about New York bagels and discovered that they could make them themselves, they found a location in Clive that spoke to them. Located along University Avenue, the Chems knew it would be the ideal spot to start up the catering side of their business, thanks to the number of buildings surrounding it. Clive is a little bit of everything — it’s a smaller space that is continuously evolving in its aesthetic and efficiency.

From Full-Time Employees to Entrepreneurs

Sarah’s dad was a jeweler, so she grew up seeing the life of an entrepreneur, including the struggles. As an entrepreneur, Toney said you always want to be better at what you do. If you keep the passion, you can keep going. The Chems have found a way to keep that passion going and will be expanding their business into the wholesale market and a second location opening at 11101 Plum Drive in Urbandale in 2023.

Over the course of their entrepreneurial journey, they’ve had to learn the legalities like restaurant licensing and inspections, to name a few, through research themselves. Toney said founders can’t be afraid to not know something or ask for help and hire experts in their field to help you navigate what you don’t know.

Community Partnerships

Across DSM, the Chems enjoy working with other local businesses. One example of this is their partnership with Paws & Pints, which serves up 5 Borough Bagels from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in their on-site 5 Borough Express (6218 Willowmere Dr., Des Moines) for hungry pups and their owners. The duo also partners with Capital City Coffee Owner/Roaster Iisha Martin to provide a custom, high-quality coffee blend to their customers.

Through the ups and downs, Sarah and Toney still have the same passion for 5 Borough Bagels today as they did when they began their entrepreneurial journey over 7 years ago. See the 5 Borough Bagels menu to see what this local restaurant offers or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for updates.

Listen to the entire podcast above.

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Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.