Bagel Bar opens new storefront location

· The Pulse

After four years as a pickup-only business, Bagel Bar has opened a storefront in south Edmonton.

Bagel Bar initially operated out of the kitchen at the now-closed DeRose Fine Foods and then moved production into Vienna Bakery. Owner Gemma Davies said she had always wanted to open a storefront, but having launched her business just before the pandemic in 2019, the timing wasn't quite right.

"When things started to take off, COVID hit, and we were in a contactless world," said Davies. "The online contactless world worked for us. With the regular shutdowns, the storefront would have been too risky."

As the world started to open up again, Davies started to look into potential spaces, and one came up at 4823 99 Street NW that she could not refuse.

"It was a connection," said Davies. "Drift Food Truck was not using the storefront space at their production kitchen. It is 200 square feet, which is perfect because I already have production space at Vienna. We're not baking at the storefront and will just shift our inventory."

The storefront opened on July 15 and will operate Wednesdays to Saturdays. The relationship with Drift means Bagel Bar will be selling Drift's popular pantry items on its behalf, including its sauces and spice mix. In the future, Bagel Bar will be stocking Drift's frozen products as well.

A self-described home cook and home baker, Davies was attempting to create a great bagel because she couldn't find one in Edmonton that she enjoyed. But after seeing that her friends and family were "going crazy" over them, she decided to pursue bagels as a business.

"We specialize in a New York-style bagel," said Davies. "We pride ourselves in authentic preparation. It's somewhere between 24 and 48 hours to make a bagel. The hugest part is that we hand-roll the bagels, and we boil our bagels to give the crust a lovely chewy texture and keep the crumb nice and soft."

Bagel Bar owner Gemma Davies looks down at a platter of baked goods including bagels

Bagel Bar owner Gemma Davies found an ideal location for her storefront at Drift Food Truck's space at 4823 99 Street NW. (Supplied)

While direct online ordering and pickup make up the majority of its sales, Bagel Bar's bagels are also served at seven businesses across the Edmonton region, including cafés in Leduc, Sherwood Park, and Spruce Grove. On busy days, the kitchen can make upwards of 800 bagels; to support this, the team has grown to six people.

Flavours range from the familiar — plain, sesame, everything — to more experimental ones that are offered for limited periods of time.

"We take inspiration from anything: time of year, something we ate on the weekend," said Davies. "Two of our craziest flavours — people went insane for them — were Cool Ranch Doritos and Hot Cheetos. But I don't know if I'm bringing them back. There's something to be said about the sheer smell of that amount of crushed chips."

Special flavours will initially be offered only at the shop, alongside up to a dozen other options, and then be released for online pre-ordering in the following weeks, Davies said. On July 15, Davies brought back the toasted coconut bagel, one of Bagel Bar's most popular flavours over the past couple of years.

In addition to bagels, Bagel Bar also makes its own flavoured cream cheeses and a line of decadent cookies called Chonk that were added to the bakery's lineup in 2020. In fact, the cookies are so popular that Davies thinks Chonk might one day have its own standalone space, which is why the storefront has been dually branded as Bagel Bar and Chonk.

"Chonk has taken on a life of its own," said Davies. "I see growth happening there, so there is real potential. So this is the first step to bringing that to life."

Although the shop is intended as a grab-and-go space, it will be serving locally roasted Sorellina Coffee and cold drinks, and it may also have tables and chairs outdoors. Mostly, Davies is excited to be able to meet customers, old and new.

"After four years of operating online, it will be lovely for people to come check us out in person," said Davies. "It will be great to finally be face-to-face with our customers."