On a recent morning, a regular stream of patrons came and went. Some wanted fresh coffee; others hungered for a quick, hot-off-the-griddle sausage, egg and cheese sandwich.
Bagels and Beyond — a gourmet delicatessen and bagel shop in the Hernando County Airport Industrial Park — has been open for three weeks, and the word has begun to spread.
"When we saw the sign that said 'Deli,' we couldn't wait for them to open," said Leah Davis, who works down the street at the Department of Veterans Affairs Mobile Counseling Center.
Until now, breakfast and lunch options have been limited in the industrial park, and customers — including some who work in the industrial park — expressed enthusiasm for the new place to grab a bite to eat.
"We drive by here all the time," said Teri English, who has already become a regular. "It's nice to find another breakfast place that's local."
Cindy Panariello said she had been on the lookout for a new bagel shop.
"I absolutely love them," she said of the new deli.
Owner Michael Peranio, 55, arrives at 4 a.m. to make the bagels, starting each day with several hundred pounds of flour. His shop, 1,700 square feet tucked inside the Regent Oaks Office Building at 16272 Spring Hill Drive, has a small kitchen with massive shiny new appliances imported from New Jersey.
Peranio and his wife, Lisa, decorated the dining area, painting the room pumpkin spice and golden yellow. It seats 26 and has free wireless Internet access. Posters from the movie The Godfather and the hit TV show The Sopranos line the walls. The decor includes black-and-white photos of a meat and poultry shop that Peranio's grandparents owned in New Jersey in the 1930s.
Later in the morning, Peranio's son, Michael Jr., 19, delivered menus to businesses up and down Aviation Loop and Flight Path drives. Peranio's father, Jack Peranio, 82, arrived to lend a hand.
"I'm the goodwill ambassador," he said, greeting customers and making small talk as they arrived.
Peranio and his family have lived in Hernando County for 16 years. In addition to having what he calls a passion for food, he works as a real estate agent with Tropic Shores Realty.
He isn't new to the bagel business. He opened and later sold a shop in Stockholm, N.J., called the Maple Tree Deli, and in the mid 1990s he opened and ran the Pickle Barrel Deli and Cafe in Spring Hill.
"I like to stay busy," Peranio said. "I can't sit still."
At the grill, Peranio poured scrambled eggs for a breakfast sandwich order. As it cooked, he flipped the edges with a large metal spatula, and when it was done he carefully lifted it onto the bagel.
Menu items range from muffins and cookies, all baked in the kitchen on-site, to sandwiches and salads with names like Brooklyn's Best (a pastrami Reuben) and the Soprano (grilled chicken, mozzarella, spinach and tomato basil pesto). The bagels can be fixed New York style, too, with Nova Scotian lox, cream cheese, tomato and a slice of red onion.
"There's so much, you could have something different every day," said customer Joyce Sloan, pointing to Peranio's homemade jalapeno cheddar cream cheese as a personal favorite. At least for that day.
Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.