Q&A with Ramy Bahgat, owner of Raleigh Rolls

rolled up ice cream
Ramy Bahgat, founder of Raleigh Rolls

Today we chat with Ramy Bahgat, the Managing Partner at Raleigh Rolls located in the Warehouse District of downtown Raleigh.

This Q&A is a part of our series called interviews with locals where we interview local Raleigh business owners and entrepreneurs to share their story with our community.

If you haven’t been to Raleigh Rolls yet and you have a sweet tooth, what are you waiting for?!

Where did you grow up and go to school? How long have you lived in Raleigh?

My name is Ramy, I was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt till the age of 24. All of my school life was in Egypt. I went to business administration school there and I have been living in the Triangle since 2006.

How did you get into the industry you are in now? 

I started in the restaurant industry as soon as i arrived to the USA for the second time back in 2000, i started as a dishwasher and worked my way up in the kitchen and then through management from there

Give us your 30 second elevator pitch for your business? (who are you, what do you do/sell, where are you located etc)

Raleigh Rolls was an idea that started with the start of the food halls trend, around this time Raleigh was getting ready to have its first food hall, Kristen (my partner) went to the owner of the food hall with the idea of rolled ice cream, which is a concept of making fresh ice cream on a frozen surface in front of customers which is a concept she encountered when she was in Thailand.

S'mores flavor at Raleigh Rolls
S’mores flavor

From there he introduced us to each other and our journey with Raleigh Rolls started. 

We make fresh made from scratch ice cream, the possibilities are endless amounts of flavors that can be created to suit all kinds of different palettes. 

Currently located at the Morgan Street Food Hall in the Warehouse District, we also have a mobile unit that serve different communities and neighborhoods as well as catering orders.

Most popular item that you sell at your business? 

Chocolate Overload: a cookies and cream ice cream loaded with different toppings. And based on seasons, we have other flavors the sell at a phenomenal pace like the mix berry in the summertime, and S’mores when it starts to get cold.

Chocolate Overload, Raleigh Rolls
Chocolate Overload

Your favorite item that you sell at your business?

Benelux Biscoffee: a cold brew coffee made by our local favorite Benelux coffee shop mixed with Biscoff cookies and topped with whipped cream and carmel.

What would a traveler learn about Raleigh by coming to your business?

An upbeat cool modern city with strong southern roots which is exactly what our menu reflects. 

Even though we serve a new trendy ice cream that keeps gaining popularity around the world, we also took staple southern flavors like S’mores and Banana pudding and created our ice version of it.

man holding a cup of rolled ice cream
Ramy with Mounir from Sassool Cafe

If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where in Raleigh would you take them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? 

There is a great food scene in Raleigh and it continues to grow. 

Raleigh became home for a lot of popular and talented chefs, it will be hard to choose one place for every meal, but I’ve got some favorite spots of my own that I tried and always eat there whenever I get the chance like Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar which to me is at the top of Italian cooking.

And Gym Tacos, one of my favorite tacos places to eat at.

Best thing about living in Raleigh?

The diversity in the community and the amount of support once there is a cause, and that was easy to recognize all the way through the pandemic 

Least favorite thing about living in Raleigh? 

I do not think I have anything negative about Raleigh, I don’t actually live in the city, I live outside of Raleigh, but I am in Raleigh all day everyday

How did you pivot in your business during the 2020 pandemic?

That was the time for our mobile unit to shine.

It was originally made for private parties and catering only, but when the pandemic hit and businesses started to shut down all across the state, we started to serve different communities and neighborhoods and it put a smile on so many faces who were not able to go out.

They really appreciated the fact the we came to them in their own neighborhood to serve them.

In hindsight, what do you wish you had in place before the pandemic hit to better prepare for it?

I do not think anyone one could have predicted the devastating events that happened due to Covid-19 or prepared for something like that.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, when we started building our trailer I did not see how much that could benefit us till the pandemic happened and that trailer is what saved our business! 

Mixed Berry flavor at Raleigh Rolls
Mixed Berry

Can’t miss attraction in Raleigh for an out-of-town visitor?

The Welcome to Raleigh Y’all mural and all the different cuisines all over Raleigh. And if they like beer, you have to visit the Raleigh Beer Garden for the crazy amount of selection! 

Your favorite business in Raleigh that you like to frequent? 

Again, I am all about the restaurant industry, so that will be Mulino, Gym Taco, CowBar (which is my neighbor business, so I am there all the time).

What excites you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years?

How fast Raleigh and the surrounding areas are growing and the huge domestic migration to the triangle in general which creates a bigger market.

men posing for the camera while holding a cup of rolled ice cream
Ramy with Teddy Diggs from Coronato Pizza

What concerns you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10  years?

The effect from Covid that put us a few steps behind and that effect will carry on for the next few years.

Other than that, like I said before Raleigh is growing in a fast paced and the market is getting bigger which is the perfect environment for business.

Which local Raleigh entrepreneur inspires you to do better?

There are actually a few entrepreneurs that I look up to.

Like Samad Hachby and the passion that he has for food and the industry in general. Niall Hanley in the way he created and runs his company, and every single business owner that I worked with, I end up learning something from them.

What’s one or two pieces of advice you would give to someone wanting to start a business in Raleigh? 

I would say what Elon Musk said, find out what people want and do it better than anyone else. That requires strong knowledge for the product and experience working in the field you want to do business in.

What is your favorite task that you perform in your business each day?

Interacting with customers and getting to know them.

a close up of rolled ice cream in a cup
Pumpkin pie roll – a Fall season special.

Which activity do you hate most doing in your business each day?

Administrative work, I am not made to sit on a desk, so doing paperwork is the least favorable thing I do.

Drink of choice? Where in Raleigh do you get it at?

I do not drink Alcohol at all but I  love coffee, my coffee at home is Dunkin Donuts coffee, but Benelux is my favorite coffee shop in Raleigh.

How do you relax and destress? 

Sitting on my front to watch a movie or read a book.

What is your “WHY” for doing what you do? 

Create something new and see customers’ faces when you present them with something they have never had before. And hear their complement for how well it tastes, or how much they love it is what gets me up and going everyday.

Favorite American city? 

Tampa, Florida for nothing other than it reminds me a lot of my home town.

Favorite international country? 

Every chance I get to travel overseas, I go to Egypt. Alexandria to be precise since I still have family over there and I like to take every opportunity to visit with them, so thats got to be my favorite destination.

My dream destination would have to be Europe; Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Paris. I would love to have a big tour one day in europe!

When you hear the words “THIS IS RALEIGH” what comes to mind? 

I think of the fairground and the State Fair. But I also think of downtown and Glenwood Avenue with all the nightlife and the restaurants, and hopefully one day the word Raleigh will remind people of ice cream and Raleigh Rolls!

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Go say hi to Ramy and tell him This Is Raleigh sent you:

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