Being a former New Yorker, I’ve always said, ”There’s nothing like a New York bagel.” Sure, some are good, but never quite that New York bagel taste – a very crunchy outside and soft chewy, but not overly doughy inside. And, oh yes, a shiny crust. That is until I had a bagel at Bagels ‘n Grinds in College Park.
That’s exactly how Adam Greenberg, owner of Bagels ‘n Grinds felt. Greenberg, who also owns Potomac Pizza, says that for 26 years, “I could never look a New Yorker in the eye and say that I make as good a pizza as ones in the New York area.” So when Greenberg decided to go into the bagel business, he was determined to be able to say to any New Yorker, “These bagels are as good as any New York bagel and maybe even better,” smiles Greenberg.
Just how did he pull that off? Greenberg spent hundreds of hours scouring the internet for info. Like many, Greenberg was a strong believer that part of the answer to the perfect bagel laid in New York’s water. Some call it a myth, others say that yes, it’s the water. New York’s water funnels through the Catskills where it picks up minerals. New York State calls the water from this area the “Champagne” of drinking water.
“When you bake with soft water or hard water it never comes out just right. Like Goldilocks you have to have the perfect balance,” says Greenberg. Short of bringing water down from the Catskills, Greenberg analyzed the water and then gave the specifications to a company to build a water filtration system just for him. The special system purifies and softens the water and then re-mineralizes it to match the New York water.
In addition to Greenberg’s research, he hired someone from New York whose family has been in the bagel business for three generations.
Greenberg married the information he had gathered online with the bagel master’s knowledge. Viola, a New York bagel! He even upped the ingredients to kick up the bagels a couple of notches. But when asked about the ingredients, Greenberg clammed up, not divulging any of the secret ingredients. He did, however, reveal that his egg bagels are made with actual eggs, whereas some others just use food coloring. Who knew that I might have eaten that kind of bagel – yuck! Bagels n’ Grinds makes about 16 different kinds of bagels including the flagel, a flattened bagel with more crust and less innards.
Whether you’re in New York, or the DMV, Greenberg says that many bagel shops are mom-and-pop establishments. He was looking for something different, a place that would be an experience - a place where you’d want to linger, not a place to have your bagel and leave. Once you walk into Bagels ‘n Grinds you know that it’s different. The huge floor-to-ceiling windows, comfy chairs, free WiFi, big screen TVs, and a roaring double- sided fireplace say come with friends, stay a while, do some work or relax. There’s even a small conference space, in case you want to conduct business. And when the weather turns nice, there’s outdoor seating.
Right now Bagels 'n Grinds has two shops, one in College Park and the other in Hanover, Md. Greenberg is now starting to think about the location for his next shop. Fingers crossed it will be near my house!