REVEALED: The secret that’s not a secret

You may have noticed …

Some changes at the Bagel Grove. 

We knocked down a couple walls, and built a few new ones.

Some we covered with stainless steel… 
Or shelves for merchandising…
And the rest (not quite finished…) with a fresh coat of paint!

In an email last winter, I alluded to the final plans.

Today I reveal… 
(it wasn’t supposed to be a secret)

The NEW Bagel Grove
Conference & Community room!

Here’s a brief explanation of why…

This may be the last time I feel compelled to explain the following… 
Because businesses make changes when they have to change to survive… NOT because they enjoy frustrating customers with change. If folks don’t like how we run our business, that is cool. However, there are many others who do, which is why we do it!

Though brief, here lies the truth as fully as I can describe it.

We lost nearly ALL our wholesale business at the start of the pandemic, ultimately forcing us to shut down for a few months in the summer of 2020.

During that time we had a chance to look at our business, identify our strengths and our weaknesses, and dream of what would work best in the rapidly unfolding new world!

Very simply we looked at

  •  What we sold the most of (breakfast sandwiches and morning dozens for home and office)
  • What cost us the most (indoor dining, wholesale and the extensive menu)
  • And where we could grow (online sales, subscription bagels and delivery).

Out of 👆 reflection, a new, streamlined Bagel Grove was born. 

But one big question remained.

What to do with the old dining space??

With all the changes in the workforce and community life we thought we could build a space for people to use when they needed to get together!

Because Bagel Grove has always been about building up community along with serving our good food.

The new space is available to rent, 7 days a week, with complimentary coffee, tea and of course… bagels and cream cheese!. You can also order off our menu during our regular store hours. (3 day advance reservation required to get the free bagels)

Many non-profits and community groups can rent the room for free! (email me for details)

My new book group is meeting there this month… with BYO wine!

So now you know all my secrets 🙂

aka The Bae-Gal

Change (s) in the air

No matter how many times I circle round the sun… I feel a little differently about spring each year.

(I think the March weather is responsible)

I remember a year where I sat bundled up on the front porch at my girlfriend’s house watching the days get longer… and we confided that we weren’t ready for winter to end, for life to speed up. 

So much more is expected of us in the warmer months.

It might sound crazy for a non-skier, Upstate New Yorker to wish away the onset of spring, but sometimes I’m just not ready for things to change.

I finally settle into dark afternoons, sort out my winter wardrobe, find a pace that feels right, and suddenly, POOF! It’s time to re-arrange.

But this year… I’m done with cold, done with dark.  I’m welcoming spring with expectation, even she fights us like a hormonal teenager… I feel my bones aching to thaw, the deep warm sun whispering of picnics by the creek, wispy clothing, and a return to…

… there, I’m gonna say it…


Or some workable version of it.

We can’t go back to the way things were, especially at our shop, because too much has shifted and morphed.

But we can… with the welcome of spring… bring back the yummiest parts.

Starting this week, we’re extending our weekday hours until noon, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

And since we’re opening up into the lunch hour…

We’ve brought back a couple of our favorite lunch sandwiches, and even created a new one!

Weather (pun intended) you’re ready and running into spring this year…

Or still hibernating and willing away hints of frenzy and full schedules.

A taste of our new Tuna Club and the Classic Deli Turkey or Ham and Cheese,

(Especially if you eat it on our porch, in the sun, for a work-week luncheon)

should help you welcome spring’s changes and new normals.

Can’t wait to share the changes with you!

Order the New Tuna Club!

A little tale of a little library

If you’ve been to the Bagel Grove lately… you’ll have noticed we’re currently under construction.

Even if you haven’t been in since, I dunno, the middle of 2020, you’ll have noticed some changes in our layout.

Most notably… we don’t have indoor dining anymore.

Actually we DO have something new planned for the old dining room, hence the aforementioned construction. I’m gonna leave the plans for that new space as a surprise for later…

But anyway, I have put something new in our customer waiting area, and I’d like to formerly announce this to you here, now.

First a little back story…

My daughter has recently turned 14, which even though 13 is the technical year one becomes a teenager, I believe that age is still firmly in the “tween” category, and 14 is when things get a bit more serious.

For my daughter, this meant, for one, an update to her bedroom. She wants to get rid of the turquoise and purple walls. We’re in the midst of painting them a lovely color called “warm sand” (also known as tan… 🤷🏻‍♀️). Her room redo also included cleaning out her book shelf.

For a couple days I had a box in our hallway of elementary aged books and some craft kits that she no longer wants… And after staring at them every time I went up or down the stairs…

I got the idea!

Have you ever seen one of those little “free libraries” that are sometimes found in parks, on city streets, and in this case…

Inside Bagel Grove’s waiting area.

Our little free library currently features lots of YA fiction, picture books, craft books and a couple aforementioned crafting kits. But the idea is, you take a book or you give one… all for free!

So while you’re waiting for the unveiling of our new space… or for your bagel toasted with cream cheese… or your’e stopping off to pick up an online order, pop over and check out this little gem… who knows, your next cozy Sunday evening partner could be waiting in there for you!

And last before I go, I must tell you that my family (said teenager, plus her two brothers and my husband), are taking off for the week of February break so the Bagel Grove will be closed February 21- March 1. 

Place your bagel orders now so you have something good to eat when the kids are out of school!

Our little free library currently features lots of YA fiction, picture books, craft books and a couple aforementioned crafting kits. But the idea is, you take a book or you give one… all for free!

Bagel-ing in the age of COVID

Yesterday started out like any other day…

There are five of us who open the shop together every day: a baker, a dough maker, a couple on the prep line, and someone to take care of the register.

We were keeping busy with prep work, filling orders and greeting the steady line of early risers coming in our doors.

The day was grey and rainy outside… but peaceful.

I’ll spare you ALL the details, but it went south quickly.

A group of somewhat rowdy men started to gather in the lunchroom. Their cohort had soon outgrown the ability to fit in the booth… and still no one had ordered anything.

One of our employees came out from the back to fix her coffee. The employee had chosen to wear her “Black Lives Matter” T-Shirt to work. She is fully supported in that choice. 

Immediately, the rowdy group of men reacted. Complaints and comments and a scuffle with our staff over mask wearing ensued.

In the end, we asked the men to leave and find somewhere else to gather.

Now why am I telling you this?

The whole ordeal made me feel one thing.

It made me incredibly thankful for the overwhelming majority of our customers who not only love our bagels but also appreciate how we do business.

These have been hard times for all of us.

But we have such an awesome community of customers.  And because of you, we are still here, doing what we do best.

You really make it all worth it

Welcome to 3am at Bagel Grove

When seventy-two perfectly browned, shiny on the outside, promising soft, steaming, chewy crumb on the inside, bagels arrive at the open door of our rotating bagel oven, 

It’s like winning a prize.

We pull ourselves out of bed at 1:30 and into a cold shop to bake the day’s bagels… Once the oven is full to capacity with boiled, bagel shaped lumps of dough (that’s 36 dozen), it’s finally time for the first bagels of the morning to start coming out. 

Look at these beauties!

Once that first shelf of bagels is out of the oven, every 3 minutes another batch of hot, browned bagels will arrive finished at the oven door. And it goes on like that for the next 2 hours. The task of baking bagels involves facing a 460 degree oven, keeping up the pace, and taking care not to under or over-bake, miss any seeds, or drop even one precious bagel. And when this hot and precise process is finished… breakfast is served!

Back in what I’ll call “the glory days” of Bagel Grove (was that just 2 months ago??!), we repeated the process that I just described, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. We had a staff of 20 people taking the bagels from their humble beginnings as a bag of flour… to dressing them up with fancy cream cheese and farm fresh eggs.  But for now, access to these delectable bagels is pretty exclusive.

When you order, you’re getting bagels made the old fashioned way, baked in the wee hours of the morning, and delivered to your door only hours later.  But there’s more to it. When you get your dozen bagels delivered on a Friday or Saturday morning, you’re not only receiving an artisan, fresh product… You’re helping to preserve a tradition.

Thank you for supporting us through your orders, your kind feedback and your patience!

Can someone please explain why?

No… I can’t explain why the world has turned upside down, or why all this time at home has only increases your to-do list (and made it harder than ever to get through it), or why the internet starts acting like it’s 1991 at about 4:45 every afternoon… (Well, actually that one I can explain, it seems streaming Netflix is the new happy hour.)

But I specifically wanted to explain to our loyal and devoted customers why Bagel Grove bagels are in such scarce supply.

Many of you only ever saw the retail side of the Bagel Grove. Many of you were used to coming in for your bagel sandwich, or grabbing a dozen for the office or standing in line on a busy Sunday morning. What surprises most people, is that the majority of our bagels were baked and out the door before our retail store was even open! We used to have a booming wholesale business. Our bagels were in the cafeterias of dozens of local companies, coffee shops and all the local Colleges and Universities.  But as all the students and workers were sent home in mid-March, our bagels were no longer needed… and the wholesale business went instantly into hibernation.

Additionally, as with many restaurants, the shut down has many fewer customers out and about, and we felt that pinch as for sure.  So, we’ve worked hard to pivot the business to delivery, and shrinking our operation to bare minimum is hopefully only temporary. 

We are encouraged by our customers and the influx of orders for our dozen delivered. 

We will continue to keep those bagels coming as often as we can.

Welcome to Bagel Grove

Utica’s Original Bagel. For over 30 years we’ve been having fun and changing it up when we need to… all while making and baking the most delicious bagels and serving the most delectable toppings! Read more to get a sort of behind the scenes look at what’s going on with the bagels and the folks that make ’em!