by Jason Scott, Authentic Bagel Company

I’m Jason Scott and I’m going to tell you how two Jewish kids from Rhode Island ended up baking bagels in Oakland, CA. It all started with my older brother Mark.

Mark and I are best friends, business partners but most importantly brothers. Usually, when there was finger pointing in my family, it was because we did something that mom and dad got mad about and one of us was grounded for.

In this situation, I’m pointing my finger at Mark, and my parents couldn’t be happier or more proud. This journey starts with Mark’s curiosity, love and passion for food. In that order. Mark started cooking 3 course meals at home when he was 10 years old.  His early stage of curiosity with food quickly turned into love which of course turned into his passion.  I always looked up to and mimicked him in every way and of course, his curiosity and passion for food soon became mine.

After both graduating from the Johnson and Whales University in Providence, Rhode Island, today we are walking the same path. We have been working together in the food industry for 10 years: running and managing several restaurants, working side by side as a General Manager/Chef/Sous Chef combinations, and now as the owners of the local bagel shop.

How exactly did we get interested in making bagels? It all has to do with our family’s move from the East Coast, out west. While helping to pack up our childhood house, we stumbled upon a couple forgotten cookbooks that, to our excitement, contained handwritten recipes from our great grandmother. One  recipe dated back to the turn of the century.  To our interest, one was an authentic recipe for a bagel with a starter dough. Commercial yeast wasn’t readily available back then, so the every day home baker would use a starter dough, a dough full of natural leavening yeasts and delicious fermentation to create complex, flavorful, crusty breads. This is how we decided on our business name. Authentic bagels are based on the authenticity of our families recipes.

Our first effort into the bagel business started at the last Oakland restaurant we were working at together. While putting together our brunch menu for Mother’s Day, we realized we wanted to add bagels, but unfortunately hadn’t found any on the West Coast that were up to our standard. Naturally we decided to make our own, relying on our grandmother’s recipe.

Building off of our grandmother’s foundation, we have added our own personality and flare to our recipe.  We do not classify our bagel as a New York bagel or a Rhode Island bagel but ours have a similar texture and consistency inside and out. However using a sourdough starter, we’ve given our bagels a unique San Francisco taste beyond anything we’ve ever found. Using the sourdough starter is our way of marrying the two coasts we call home. If you haven’t been able to tell so far the starter dough is what really sets us a part from other bagelers. It’s what keeps us authentic.

After having fun with this initial batch, we started to perfect our own version of the recipe. A year later, we decided to put them on the popular Sunday morning football menu. At the same time, Mark had just become engaged and was trying to save money for his wedding.  To make a little extra money, we started selling dozens of bagels to the guests and regulars at the restaurant under our  “Authentic Bagel Company” name.

From then on we quickly became known as “the bagel brothers.”  Our aim was to make a product that was unique and fresh, while blending our knowledge of an East Coast bagel with the San Francisco sourdough tradition.  After perfecting our original bagel lineup, we left our jobs as Executive Chef and General Manager and founded a wholesale bagel company. We began renting a kitchen in Jack London District of Oakland and started distributing samples to some local coffee shops and cafes. Shortly after, the craving for our bagels began to bloom. We now distribute wholesale to a loyal customer network of over 30 different cafes, restaurants and catering companies.

The reality is our tiny kitchen isn’t keeping up with the demand and the popularity of our bagels.  We also open our doors for retail 5 days a week, making extremely popular bagel sandwiches such as bagel/egg/bacon/cheese sandwiches, bagel/lox/caper sandwiches, and of course, the classic toasted bagel with cream cheese.  We have lines out the door, daily, with nowhere for patrons to sit.

Our current kitchen is 650sq ft. We have seen great success in our wholesale business and have out grown our current space. We have had to deny wholesale inquiries because we are maxed out with refrigeration space. We are producing on average 800-1500 bagels a day. The demand for our product has gotten so large that we decided to expand into the adjacent space next door to our current space. Our greatest potential is to use our expanded space to grow from a wholesale company into a wholesale company with a retail location.

And that’s why we need to expand.  We’ve always had a heart for community and for bringing people together over food, so when the pharmacy next door closed down, we saw that as an opportunity to build out our bagel shop café and expand our operations. This is why we asking for your help.

In this cafe outfitted with bar tables wrapping around the walls, we’ll be serving our popular bagels, with a much more extended breakfast/lunch menu. We’ll also be serving cold-pressed juices made by S+S Gastrogrub (a popular local catering team), and Oakland best cup of coffee and espresso from our local roasters at Roast Co. coffee.

The expansion will also give us a chance to double or even triple our wholesale bagel business which would help our growth immensely.  We need to increase our wholesale production by building a walk-in refrigerator to proof more bagels overnight, and install an oven that can bake bagels around the clock.

We’re two brothers, two best friends, two business partners, and two people who realize we can’t do this on our own.  We need YOUR help to make our dreams of building our cafe and spreading our love for authentic bagels throughout the Bay Area a reality.

Along this whole journey of starting Authentic Bagel Company to now, we are proud to say we’ve had the most awesome fan base and community support to keep us waking up at the crack of dawn every morning with the goal to provide the best bagels to Oakland and the entire Bay Area. Please donate to our Kickstarter and help fund our dream.  In the same way our bagels need starter dough to grow and bake into something good, we need this Kickstarter ‘Starter Dough’ to grow and make ourselves into something amazing.

Thank you all for your support!

Jason, Mark, and the entire ABC (Authentic Bagel Company) Family

Donate on Kickstarter

Note: Do you have a crowd-funding project on Kickstarter, Indie-Go-Go, GoFundMe, or another established site? If the answer is yes, you’re invited to take part in a community experiment–posting and promoting your crowd-funding campaign–which needs to be set in and benefit Oakland, CA–on Oakland Local.  To get your story about your crowd-funding campaign on OL, get in touch with with the story you want us to run (we’re not able to write it for you), the live link to your campaign, and your contact info and photos.  We reserve the right to select which campaigns we run stories on, and to limit or end this experiment at any time.  (On the other hand, we love the idea of helping local entrepreneurs advance their causes by tapping into Oakland Local’s engaged audience.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.