In 1988, Utica had to rely on a once-a-week truck that drove up from New York City for authentic bagels. A dissatisfied electrical engineer and his family would soon change all that with the opening of Utica’s first authentic bagelry in September of 1988…
On frequent business trips to Los Angeles, a jet-lagged Ed Grove would often wake up at 3:30 AM, his sleep schedule still on East-Coast time. These were the pre-laptop computer, pre-internet days, and the morning paper wasn’t even out yet. The TV options at 3:30 AM were obviously paltry. He would lie awake in his hotel room, contemplating his career and family, and otherwise twiddling his thumbs with little to do.
One fateful day, in those wee hours of the morning, Ed was cleaning out his daily planner, throwing away old receipts and notes. A bit of reckless inspiration mixed with serendipity when he came across a business card for a bagel shop in Ithaca. Without much hesitation, he called from his L.A. hotel room back to the East Coast and proceeded to talk to the owner of that bagel shop for an hour. We can only imagine how the conversation between Ed and his wife Carole went upon his return home from the business trip, but Utica would forever be the beneficiary of that fateful jet-lagged morning and an opportune business card.
Fast-forward a few months, and Ed had tendered his resignation at General Electric and he and Carole spent several months in hands-on training and apprenticeship with Bagels Northeast in Ithaca. They renovated the former Lums restaurant building on Burrstone Road, doing most of the construction and redecoration work themselves. Mayor Louis LaPolla would attend the ribbon cutting and Bagel Grove opened its doors to the bagel-hungry public on September 19, 1988.
The building had held several restaurants since the closing of Lums, but none of them ever lasted more than a few months or years. The block of Burrstone Road would go through some changes over the next few years, with the Travelodge and Mobil gas station that were on either side of the Bagel Grove closing down and remaining vacant for several years. Bagel Grove anchored the block through these years of transition as the Mohawk Valley’s appetite for fresh baked, authentic bagels only grew. Business grew to the point that Bagel Grove expanded their current location in 1994 to build additional bagel production area.
In 2005, Bagel Grove passed on to the second generation when Matt and Annie Grove bought the business from Ed and Carole. Since then, the Bagel Grove has celebrated its twentieth anniversary in grand style with proclamations honoring Bagel Grove for its contribution to both the economic and gastronomic stability of Uticans.
As second-generation owners, Matt and Annie have sought to uphold the fine tradition of bagel baking that Matt’s parents established in Utica. They hope to maintain the reputation and find new and interesting ways to entice and entertain their bagel-loving customers.