(New York Jewish Week) — Like many people stuck at home during the pandemic, Adam Goldberg, who worked at a flood-mitigation systems company in Westport, Connecticut, decided to try his hand at baking. But unlike most amateur bakers, Goldberg turned his pastime into a thriving bagel-delivery service that built a loyal following and drew the attention of celebrity investors like actor Paul Rudd.
And now, PopUpBagels, which touts itself as a “‘not famous but known’ bagel and schmear subscription club,” announced this week that it will open a brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan at the corner of Bleecker and Thompson streets.
The Greenwich Village store, along with a forthcoming shop in Greenwich, Connecticut, will be PopUpBagels’ first foray into permanent storefronts. This transition comes on the heels of raising “more than a couple million” dollars in seed funding in November 2022, attracting celebrity investors like Rudd, actor Patrick Schwarzenegger and swimmer Michael Phelps. But bold-faced names aren’t the only thing that sets PopUpBagels apart: Unlike most bagel bakeries, PopUpBagels only sells bagels by the dozen, at $38 a pop (which includes two tubs of “artisan schmears” — unique flavors like caramel apple, dill pickle, and black sesame miso).
“Think of us as your private bagel bakery,” Goldberg, 48, told the New York Jewish Week. “When you feel like you want bagels, you’ll be able to go on our website and order a dozen bagels for a specific pickup time and hot, fresh bagels will be waiting for you when you get there.”
PopUpBagels will not be selling individual bagels, sandwiches or any “old and colds,” which is how Goldberg refers to “anything that’s been sitting out for more than 45 minutes.”
For now — until both stores open in mid-March — PopUpBagels operates via pre-orders only. Customers reserve their orders at the beginning of the week through the bakery’s website, selecting a 15-minute time slot on weekend mornings for pickups at a variety of locations in the tri-state area, including Redding, Connecticut and Tenafly, New Jersey. (Overnight mail orders — 18 bagels for $60, plus schmears — are also available anywhere in the United States on Thursday nights.) City dwellers can pick up their advance-ordered bagels on Saturday mornings at Scampi, an Italian restaurant in Flatiron.
Goldberg said he and his team fill some 700 to 800 pre-sale orders each week, which are baked at two Connecticut bakery locations. The emphasis is on freshness and quality, Goldberg said, which is why the bagels are made-to-(pre)order.
Once the storefront opens, bagels will be baked on-site and available “five to six days a week,” he said. Walk-up orders of half-dozen or a dozen bagels will be available, he added.
“Our flavor is just a little bit different than every other bagel out there,” Goldberg said of his creations, which are about two-thirds the size of an average New York bagel. “We have this saying: ‘We’ve got a little chew in the crust without the lead in the belly.’ It’s refreshing.”
For the last two years, PopUpBagels has taken home the “Best Overall Bagel” award at Brooklyn Bagel Fest, judged by a panel of 20 industry experts. (The competition has only been in existence for three years.)
“PopUp creates some intention around your bagel routine; you have to put intention towards getting their simply perfect bagels when they have a drop,” said Jake Cohen, a chef and baker who has been a contest judge at Brooklyn BagelFest the last two years and voted PopUpBagels for Best Overall Bagel. “To me, the magic of their bagels is that you’re only able to get them at peak freshness, and then alongside their inventive schmears.”
“The response has been amazing,” Goldberg said. “People are so excited. We’re hearing from customers and people who have been following us for a couple of years and saying, ‘I can’t wait.’”
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“I love supporting any establishment honoring the sanctity of a perfect bagel,” Cohen said. “I can promise when they open it will be the main reason I schlep to the Village.”
“Watching people eat our bagels for the first time and seeing their smiles and their faces light up is just an amazing feeling for me,” Goldberg added. “I’m so excited to come to New York and have the opportunity for millions of people to get their hands on our bagels and to be able to see that awesome look for the first time from so many people.”