Milo Klotzkin decided to skip college and make some real dough.
Last spring, he was a senior at Jackson Memorial High in Jackson Township, New Jersey, making solid As and Bs. He was accepted at Monmouth University and planned to attend the private college to study finance with a minor in pre-law.
But then, over the summer, he learned a bagel shop in Lakehurst would be coming up for sale and jumped at the opportunity to become a young entrepreneur.
Instead of taking out loans to finance his undergraduate education, he took out $250,000 to buy All Star Bagels, with his father as a co-signer.
“All that schooling and you’re not even guaranteed a job,” he said of his decision to skip college. “I always had a passion for making people happy – and you can do that with food.”
He closed on the bagel shop in a strip mall along Route 70 near the McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst military base in October, just as most of his friends were settling into their freshman year of college.
“When you talk to them, it’s a just a different lifestyle – what they’re doing and what I’m doing,” he said. “They’re getting up at 9 a.m. to go to classes, where I’m getting up at 4 a.m. to bake bagels and get the business going. Everybody’s on different paths.”
So far, the bet on bagels seems to be paying off. Business has surged 7% in the past quarter and Klotzkin is exploring ways to earn even more.
“We’ve expanded into doughnuts and I’m looking into a second location,” the teen said.
He currently manages five employees and has been working to add more flavors of bagels and cream cheeses to the menu, while also perfecting an ice cream recipe in time for this coming summer.
Both of his parents work in hospitality. Mom used to have a seafood restaurant in Tom’s River where Klotzkin once worked, while his father invests in several businesses, including Bagel King in Jackson. But the couple, who divorced in 2012, always urged their five children to go to college — an opportunity dad Howard Klotzkin never got to experience himself.
“College was pushed on me by my family due to [dad] not going to college, but I felt it wasn’t for me,” Klotzkin said. “It all depends on the person.”
Being saddled with student debt was a big reason Klotzkin decided not to pursue a 4-year degree. In the past two decades, the cost of tuition and fees at private national universities has skyrocketed roughly 132%, according to U.S. News & World Report. Even when adjusted for inflation, that’s still a staggering 40% increase.
Klotzkin twin brother, Sammy Klotzkin, is attending trade school to become an electrician, which he hopes to accomplish by next year. Their older brother, Chad, 29, owns a party equipment business, Garden State Party Rentals, while older sister Madison, 21, studies education at Ocean County College. Younger sister Ella, 15, works part-time at the bagel shop.
Customers are sometimes surprised to ask to talk to the manager and be handed off to Klotzkin.
“They usually don’t believe me or they think that he’s another person who is also going to get the manager for us,” Makenna Reynolds told The Post. “They’re always stunned.”
Reynolds, who knew Klotzkin in high school, said the teen business owner is a passionate and persistent boss who is enjoyable to work with.
“A lot of people are coming in and they’ll ask, ‘Is it under new ownership? The place looks amazing,'” she recalled. “And we’ll be like, ‘Yup, that’s the new owner.'”
Klotzkin hopes his success isn’t just a boon for bagel lovers, but shows there’s plenty of options beyond higher learning for ambitious high school grads.
“I’d like to show young kids how to make money and how to open businesses younger, not do the college route,” he said. “The college route is not for everybody.”