ByWard Market's popular Continental Bagel closing after 17 years as COVID-19 hits bottom line hard
OTTAWA -- A popular ByWard Market bagel shop will soon be closing its doors, as the COVID-19 pandemic claims another local business.
For 17 years, the Diaz family has been serving up what some customers say are the city’s best wood-fired bagels at their shop, Continental Bagel.
However, they have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Business is starting to get very down,” says co-owner Santiago Diaz.
Diaz's wife and co-owner, Alicia Diaz, says it has been too hard to make ends meet.
“We are not making enough money to survive. And now the winter is coming, it's going to get worse,” she says.
She says travel restrictions and the fear of contracting COVID-19 have made it nearly impossible to keep the business alive.
“We rely a lot on tourism. The Market is not like before.”
Continental Bagel will be closing its doors at the end of October and Diaz says he is not sure what will be next for him and his family.
“For us it will be almost starting all over again but we’re going to take the risk.”
When the family took on this challenge in 2003, they knew nothing about bagels. Over the years, they learned through experience and became popular with the breakfast and lunch crowd in downtown Ottawa.
“It saddens us because they’re wonderful people,” says Nancy Dorigo, who has been coming to Continental Bagel for more than 10 years with her husband, John Davis. “It has become part of our ritual to come into the Byward Market every weekend. And having a bagel here is how we would start our visits.”
Davis says, “We’ve been supporting Santiago since they’ve reopened and it's going to be a big loss on a variety of fronts. Not only to us, but also to the Market. It’s sad to see small business go away.”
“For those of us who lived in Ottawa for a really long time, these cornerstones and anchors are missing. And Ottawa will be a very different city,” says another customer.
The pandemic has taken a toll on many small businesses, and the Diaz family says it will be a sad day when they make that last batch of bagels.
“We’re going to miss the bagel shop,” says Santiago Diaz. “We’re going to miss it a lot. Like everything good, it's coming to an end.”