Bagels are bagels, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not quite correct. The bagels bought at the grocery store and, sadly, many bagel shops across the country are pretty much just circle bread loaves.
A real bagel should have a nice shiny, tough exterior. It fights back a bit with a tug, by hand or teeth, but as it opens, it reveals a soft interior. The tender inside is moist, and while it’s dense, it has a delightful, easy chew. Bagels are beautiful when done well, not a less indulgent version of a doughnut. They don’t necessarily need toasting, nor a giant schmear of cream cheese.
Those types of bagels aren’t always readily available in Grand Rapids, even though the city is making strides in that regard. One place that can be counted on every time is Bagel Kitchen in East Grand Rapids’ Gaslight Village.
Marc and Shannon Schulz first started selling bagels, at least in West Michigan, out of their EGR kitchen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were making bagels because people asked us to,” Shannon Schulz said. “People said how good they were and that we should open a store, and we thought more and more about what a great way to be part of the community.”
The retail operation opened in August, in the former storefront once occupied by Osta’s Lebanese Cuisine. Each day, there’s a nice variety of flavors, a coffee menu and sandwiches.
Be sure to order ahead; when a bagel is gone, it’s gone.
Bagel Kitchen actually has its roots in Costa Rica. The Schulzes opened a bagel shop there before moving to Michigan right before the pandemic. The family moved to the Central American country to “break the mold and disrupt life,” according to Shannon Schulz.
Now, Bagel Kitchen is breaking the bagel mold in Grand Rapids, and the shop often runs out, so there already are some expansion plans in the works.
“It’s going really well. We’re not marketing because our biggest challenge is staff, training staff and building systems and processes,” she said. “We can’t grow too fast.”
Just remember: Order ahead, because when they’re gone, they’re gone.
This story can be found in the November/December 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here.