San Francisco is not a city known for its bagels; in fact, it's rather the opposite. East Coast transplants have long lamented the dearth of decent bagels out West, longing for the doughy insides and perfectly chewy exterior perfected by NYC shops. Yesterday The New York Times published an article calling out the Bay Area for its many failed attempts at recreating what many New Yorkers consider to be a proprietary food item, even including a reference to Eater SF's coverage of the pop-up that caused residents stand in the rain for hours, just to procure day-old bagels flown in from NYC's Russ and Daughters. The Times' lengthy bagel revelation was followed by a San Francisco Chronicle piece outlining plans for a bagel shop on Fillmore Street from the duo behind Wise Son's Deli, due in October.
Though owners Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman have had great success since opening their first location Wise Son's Deli in 2012, they've been loath to add bagels to their menu, which they are careful to mention is "NOT A NEW YORK DELI." Despite that disclaimer, customers are still quick to compare the restaurant's pastrami and matzoh ball soup to the food of their youth, usually not meeting their entirely unrealistic expectations no matter how tasty the dish. Surely, thought Bloom and Beckerman, bagels would be a larger hurdle and no exception to the unrelenting criticism of bagel purists.
Eventually, the duo decided to make a go of it after much cajoling from Bloom, who reportedly said "We need a great a bagel. How hard can it be?" Thus began the process of recipe testing and test baking large batches of bagels in a commissary kitchen at 22nd and Mission Street. However, things took a turn on January 28, 2015 when the bagel shop was mere days from making its debut. A devastating fire destroyed their commissary kitchen, bagel-shaping machine and the building that housed it, killing one person and leaving many Mission residents homeless.
Now, as the Chronicle reports, the commercial bagel operation is back on track with plans to open in a 2,200-square-foot space on Fillmore, in the former home of Sushi Boom. Eventually, they plan to produce up to 5,000 bagels per day, for sale in their small, 12-seat retail shop. And even though other bagels have had a decent rate of success, including those from Marla Bakery, 20th Century Cafe and Beauty's Bagel's in Oakland (who've also supplied Wise Sons), Beckerman and Bloom hope to close the gap for good.
San Francisco is a notoriously tough crowd when it comes to authenticity, full of transplants from all over the country with strong opinions on how the food of their region should be made. The idea that someone could recreate a tasty, albeit not totally authentic version, of barbecue, pizza, fried chicken, or even tacos, sends San Franciscans into an uproar. So will San Francisco ever accept a bagel made within its city limits? Will New York ever get over itself? It remains to be seen, though Wise Sons is certainly a solid bet.