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.