In April, Winston Mezo decided he was ending the late nights outside of Pinch Penny Pub where he has cooked bagels for students and bar patrons for the past 34 years.
Many people in Carbondale thought the business was done for good and the end of an era was evident, but as of about a week ago, a new man has stepped up to attempt to be the new bagel man in Carbondale.
Brad Preiss of Murphysboro purchased the bagel cart from Mezo for $3,500 after seeing a listing on Craigslist for the business. The cart will be back in downtown Carbondale Friday under a similar name. Preiss said he understands Winston’s Bagels brand recognition is important.
“That’s why I’m keeping the name,” Preiss said. “It’s going to be called ‘Winston’s Bagels by B-Rad’ — ‘Almost as good as it used to be.’”
He said the title is still showing respect to Winston, but also not taking himself too seriously. Preiss also said he isn’t trying to replace Winston or be anything like Winston because there is only one “Winston.”
“I’m not Winston. Winston is Winston. I’m never going to be as funny as Winston. I’m not going to have the same stories as Winston,” he said. “I have confidence in myself that I can engage with people and I’m not a shy person, so hopefully I can try to fill in for Winston.”
Preiss said he’s lived in the area for about two years and knew of the business but never expected the amount of attention he has received since being known as the owner of the cart.
“I didn’t feel pressure until I got this response. Now, I’m just trying to make it more fun and realize I’m not trying to replace Winston,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep the legacy going.”
Preiss has a background in information technologies, but also as a baker and a club owner in different parts of the country. For the past five years, he’s been raising his daughter. As she is to begin Kindergarten, Preiss said he began to wonder about what he was going to do with the next part of his life.
That’s when his wife — who is a Southern Illinoisan — had the idea about buying the cart.
“She called Winston because she knew him and asked when they could met up,” Preiss said. “And sure enough, here we are.”
A check was exchanged for $3,500 two and a half weeks ago and the Winston’s Bagels cart was back in business.
Preiss said Winton will be on hand when the cart opens back up just help transition the business along. The first night of business will be from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., Friday night, outside of Traxx at 606 S. Illinois Ave.
He said the traditional offerings will be still available as they always were, but he will also offer New York City bagels he is shipping in from the Big Apple. He said they are slightly bigger and will have a few new menu options.