This business is all in the family
Every morning, the intersection of Willoughby Avenue and Lawrence Street buzzes with breakfast seekers, thanks to the recent opening of a new neighborhood bagel shop that sits beneath a quaint yellow-and-white striped awning. Pio Bagel, represents a new venture for the Espinozas, the family behind the Tio Pio enterprises located on Willoughby Avenue and Court Street, both locations here in Downtown Brooklyn. (There is also another Tio Pio located in midtown Manhattan).
While Tio Pio is known for its Latin fare, Pio Bagels represents a new venture into the breakfast scene. This corner location boasts 13 varieties of cream cheese plus a medley of muffins, pastries, sandwiches, omelettes, and soups.
While the food differs from the four siblings’ traditional cuisine, their experience in the bagel world runs deep. The Espinoza siblings – Carlos, Javier, Patricio, and sister Narcisa – originally hail from San Fernando, Ecuador. There, the family had operated businesses varying from a cheese factory to wholesale products to pastry shops. Upon arriving in America in the 1990s, the Espinozas continued working in the food and restaurant industry where they continued to refine their experience.
“We used to work here in Downtown Brooklyn,” said Javier Espinoza, who is helping to manage Pio Bagel while his three siblings directly oversee the other three businesses. “There was a need for this type of business in the neighborhood, so we thought to invest here in Downtown Brooklyn.”
In 2002, the Espinozas opened up the original Tio Pio in Downtown Brooklyn. Subsequent openings followed – the Manhattan location on 36th Street in 2006, the re-opening of their Downtown Brooklyn location on 78 Willoughby in 2008, and the opening of their second Downtown Brooklyn location on 19 Court Street. Their most recent addition at Pio Bagels officially opened its doors in late July.
“Our vision is to keep expanding and growing,” said Patricio Espinoza. He hinted at possibly expanding businesses in Union Square and Downtown Manhattan. “The next generation will take on the business.”