John Hill, 60, has opened Bagels Unlimited for students and Gainesville residents at 6:30 a.m. since 1992. His love for cooking and customer satisfaction keep him at the grill all morning and afternoon cooking some customer favourites like the breakfast special. 

"I like to make people happy," Hill said. 

Victoria Vargas

The 60-year-old restaurant owner has had a passion for cooking since he was in college. Although he is not formally trained, he created the menu and cooks everything that is offered at Bagels Unlimited himself. He recalled how he spends time perusing cookbooks and perfecting recipes before introducing anything new on the menu. Hill recognised that students come in later than most of his customers and decided that he would serve  breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. till closing time, 3 p.m. 

Some customer favourites off of the menu include the breakfast special, pancakes, waffles and bagels. 

There are 14 kinds of bagels available at Bagels Unlimited: plain, multi-grain, pumpernickel, bialy, cinnamon-raisin, blueberry, sesame seed, poppy seed, salt, onion, garlic, asiago cheese, wheat and the everything bagel. The spreads range from cinnamon butter to sun dried tomato pesto. 

"I can tell when my bagels are done in the oven just by smelling them," he said.

Victoria Vargas

Bagels Unlimited was originally opened by an elderly couple, Wayne and Debbie James, in 1983. When Hill bought the restaurant, he wanted to try and keep the menu the same. However, he found that the previous owners had not written down their recipes. Instead their measurements were "a glug of this, a shake of that, and a handful of this," he said. 

Hill used his keen sense of taste and smell to discern what the recipes were and created his own. There is a bagel for everyone at Bagels Unlimited.

The previous owners did not have vegan or vegetarian options on the menu. Hill introduced these options early in his business as he tried to accommodate different dietary needs. The vegan and vegetarian options available include tempeh and tofu. 

This restaurant is well known for their wall of hot sauce. There are 114 different sauces available (yes, I counted them), two of which are made in-house. This collection began modestly and it grew over time. Hill has tasted all of the sauces, so don't be shy to ask him for recommendations when you visit. Fortunately, not all of the sauces are very spicy as some are more "flavourful", so even if spicy food is not your thinking there is a sauce for you too. 

Victoria Vargas

The golf motif of the restaurant is an ode to his earlier dream of becoming a professional golf player. While he was a student at the University of South Carolina, Hill played on the golf team. He moved to Florida because he wanted to be able to practice all-year-round. However, he was not able to continue pursuing that dream when he started having a family. The walls are also lined with witty signs and University of Florida merchandise. 

Victoria Vargas

Bagels Unlimited regularly caters for the UF football and baseball teams. The football team, equipped with nutritionists, is often provided between 130 and 140 breakfast meals, said Hill. The nutritionist arranges the food into three categories: gains, maintains and lean. Hill has been providing this service to them twice a month for many years. 

Even though this business has managed to stay afloat for 27 years, the opening of Metro Diner, located next to Bagels Unlimited, in September 2015 negatively impacted the profit margins. According to Hill, he has seen a 30% decrease in his business as he no longer receives as many new customers as before. He cannot afford to advertise his business, and he relies on word of mouth, but he remained thankful to the customers that were still supporting his business.

"If you treat people with respect they come back," he said. 

Bagels Unlimited is now available on Bite Squad, Door Dash and Post Mates.