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Our Story

Jeff and Dakota Thomas-Wilhelm are Champaign, Illinois transplants who have planted roots in a town that they now call home. While both were born and raised in rural Iowa, they enjoy travelling and taking new adventures together. Their shared love for coffee, board games, and good company has always left them dreaming of creating a place of exceptional coffee and community of their own. After years of adventures and finding exceptional coffee along the way, they have arrived at the idea of establishing Good Judys’ Bagels in Champaign, Illinois, a first step in fulfilling a longtime dream.

Photo: Jeff (left) and Dakota (right)

Jeff Thomas-Wilhelm

Jeff is a driven individual with a passion for bringing his creative ideas to life. He possesses a Bachelor's degree in Business Studies and a Master's degree in Organizational Development. He enjoys working with his hands to craft various things, whether it be home DIY projects, baking, or home renovations. 

Jeff enjoys having a sense of community and knows the importance of having a trusted space to go to. With previous experience in leadership roles, he understands that staff need to feel comfortable speaking with their managers to build trust and increase operational effectiveness. This underscores commitment to cultivating Good Judys’ into a thriving establishment that resonates with the community. Jeff is also grounded in understanding the consumer's experience, reflecting his intention to enhance aspects of the business from a customer-centric standpoint. This empowers him to identify areas of improvement and innovation, particularly in the crucial initial months of opening. 

Dakota Thomas-Wilhelm

Dakota is an ambitious professional who grew up in Southeast Iowa. After earning his Bachelor’s from the University of Iowa, he moved to Barcelona, Spain and pursued his Master’s. A year later, he returned to Iowa City, where he remained for more than five years as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor. As an ESL instructor, Dakota found the importance of creating a safe space for students to be their authentic self. 


In 2020, Dakota took a position as an instructional designer with the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, where he was instrumental in creating training programs for social workers across the state. After nearly two years as a designer, Dakota was promoted to Team Lead position, where he oversees a team of designers. Though his experience, he has found the importance of providing a safe space in his office, as he once did in his classrooms. This now extends into his joint venture with his partner, Jeff, to open a bagel bakehouse in Champaign that will be a safe space for anyone.


Reach out to connect with us!

(217) 819-6362

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