MAKING HIT BAGELS IS A FAMILY AFFAIR

March 17, 2001 12:00 am
Shane Alcorn starts work at 2:15 a.m. to ensure bagels are ready for customers. ().
Shane Alcorn starts work at 2:15 a.m. to ensure bagels are ready for customers. ().

Its still dark outside at 7:10 a.m. on a Thursday, but its already twilight time in Shane Alcorns workday at Home Port Bagels and Sandwiches.

Hes packing large trays of newly minted bagels to display cases from the kitchen, where hes been laboring since 2:15 a.m., turning out some of the 40 varieties of bagels he bakes five mornings a week, six in summertime.

We sell between 300 and 400 a day, Alcorn said. We have all our own recipes. Thats something weve developed. In fact, were still developing new ones.

All the bagels are out there on display, beckoning: Honey-almond, cinnamon-raison, cranberry, blueberry, Cajun, cherry chocolate chip, and many more. Even spinach-parmesan. Sensory overload goes with the territory here.

Plain bagels are the biggest seller because you can do so much with them, Alcorn said. Parmesan cheese is the next-biggest.

Shane Alcorn and his wife, Laura, have been rising before dawn for more than six years since taking over Home Port from a previous owner in December of 1994. They have steadily turned an already successful business into an institution.

Theyve expanded twice, knocking out walls and putting in tables. Today, Home Port not only has room to seat 40, but enjoys a reputation outside the region.

The Oregonian and the Houston Chronicle have printed feature articles on Home Port, and its been the subject of a regional radio show. People beyond the South Coast have learned what locals already knew: This shop is long on good food that includes made-to-order sandwiches and homemade soups, along with bagels.

Of course, hard work and long hours have gone into this success story. After making the bagels each morning, Shane gets to work on the soups, eventually finishing his day between 8 and 9 a.m. Laura arrives at 6:15 to open the shop at 7 a.m. Sometimes she doesnt get out until 5 p.m., she said.

The couple didnt know a bagel from a bagpipe at the start. But the shop became available soon after they arrived on the coast and Laura said why not buy it. The rest is history.

We made an agreement: Shed run the shop if Id make the bagels, Shane said. So I jumped in and started making bagels.

Home Port didnt come with an operators manual, so he started all the baking from scratch using no-fat dough and recipes developed over time. Hes gone with a softer type of bagel. Eastern-style, he calls it to win over a local following. The business has blossomed out of that.

It took about 60 days to develop six recipes, he said. From that point, it was just a matter of developing new recipes.

Most of his bagels start at 65 cents, although some special, super-sweet models go for $1.05. High school kids like the pizza-flavored Biali bagel. Another favorite is the Bruin bagel, which is the basic Biali embellished with pepperoni and various veggies.

Son Justin Alcorn did the bagel-making for about 18 months after graduating from Brookings-Harbor High School, but hes now on a church mission in Brazil.

Now hes making bagels in Brazil, Shane said.

Two more Alcorn children, Tera, a Brookings-Harbor High School senior, and Travis, a freshman, now play a part in the family business. Non-family employees Lindsay Brown, Jessica Shelton and Carina Dougan help out with sandwiches and customers.

The sandwich end of the business has a menu featuring seven types of meats, 10 kinds of cheese and assorted vegetables.

And we mix and match from those, Alcorn said.

The number one seller is hot pastrami for a lunch sandwich, he said. For breakfast, the most popular sandwich is the Boogie Board Bagel, which has honey-cured ham, egg and cheddar cheese.

The Boogie Boards start going out the door soon after Home Port opens at 7 a.m. The shop stays open until 5 p.m., 7 during the summer.

We get pretty busy around 8 a.m., when people stop by on their way to work, Alcorn said of the typical work day. But the real busy time is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Usually, we get a steady flow in between times.

Alcorn said Home Port has turned out to be an awesome family business, but it may not stay in the Alcorn family much longer. Laura injured her back in a car wreck not long ago, so the work has become not just hard, but painful.

We need to get her out of here, Shane said. We might even sell this summer.

To fill his time in the event of sale, Shane has become a dealer for Martin Garage Doors, and has invented a backpack for fishermen called Smart Tackle that hes marketing via the Internet and television.

In his spare time, Shane is an assistant to Coach Dave Freeman in the Brookings-Harbor High School wrestling program, where Justin in the past and Travis now have distinguished themselves.

On this particular Thursday, in fact, Laura was scheduled for a particularly long shift because Bruin wrestlers were heading out of town to a league match. Not only Shane and Travis were going, but also Tera, who keeps team stats, leaving Laura to mind the store.

Usually, she goes with us, Shane said. Its just that were one girl short right now, so she has to stay.

Family businesses are like that sometimes.