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Part 1: gen e > The bagel queen

Chapter 3. The bagel queen

Gen e travel some previously obscure paths. How about this route: from investment banking to bagel baking. In 1997 Danielle Downing gave up a well-paid job with Salomon Brothers to start Bagel Street, a bagel deli chain, in London. Born in NYC (where else would a bagel entrepreneur be from?), Downing took an MBA at Wharton and, after graduating in 1992, headed east — to Russia to be precise, where she spent the next five years.

"At the time it was the wild west capitalism in Russia. I went originally with the intention of setting up the bagel business there." But the reality, when she arrived, didn't inspire her with confidence. "Everything took such a long time. I got really frustrated. Just negotiating a lease was problematic, and even if you found the right premises you knew someone might show up with an Uzi one day and say that the place belonged to him now."


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