Another of the Bay Area’s breakout bagel stars is ready to put down roots with a brick-and-mortar shop. Reesa Kashuk, the home baker turned full-time bagel-maker behind Poppy Bagels, has signed a lease on a space in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood; she hopes to open Poppy Bagel’s new production bakery and first retail outpost by late summer or early fall. “Finding a brick and mortar was always the dream, but taking the leap to do it was always scary,” Kashuk tells Eater SF. “I kind of just trusted when the business would tell me it’s time and that time has definitely come.”
The former Dona Thomas space at 5004 Telegraph Avenue offers bay windows, high ceilings, and enough space for one room where staff can prep dough and cream cheese and another specifically for bagel baking. Kashuk’s excited to upgrade her oven; she’s currently using a pizza oven to achieve the perfect shiny, bubbly bake, but the new space will accommodate a revolving deck oven, which means baking more bagels at once and doing it more evenly. The space will also have a counter with seats for those who want to enjoy a bagel on-site, plus a few benches.
But more bagels doesn’t mean less attention to detail, Kashuk promises. No matter where she’s baking or how many, every Poppy bagel will continue to be rolled by hand and covered with seeds or seasonings on all sides — and the flavors will stay classic. “I’m a bagel purist,” Kashuk says. She’ll stick to the current lineup of seven options — plain, everything, sesame, poppy, onion, garlic, and salt & pepper — and is exploring the idea of adding egg, pumpernickel, and perhaps cinnamon raisin. Cream cheese flavors will continue to be seasonally influenced and filled with local ingredients from beets and poppy seeds to capers and pickles.
She’ll also be serving the bagel sandwiches fans may recognize from the Grand Lake farmers market. There’s an heirloom tomato sandwich in summer and a sweet-spicy combo made with jalapeno and honey. But Kashuk, a Jewish New York native, gets particularly pumped about the plan to add an egg and cheese into the mix now that there’s room for a grilled, plus a whitefish salad. All in all, she anticipates there being about 10 types of bagels (including one rotating flavor) and eight or so sandwiches.
To fund the expansion, Kashuk launched a SMBX campaign. She’s hoping to raise $150,000 — but unlike Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaigns, SMBX allows Poppy Bagel fans to invest as little as $10 in the business with the promise of earning 7 percent interest through direct monthly payments over 5 years. “I really love the idea of people who believe in us being able to get something out of it,” Kashuk says. “That feels really good to me.”
Since launching Poppy Bagels from her home kitchen in the early days of the pandemic, Kashuk has expanded to doing delivery from San Francisco to Berkeley with weekly Saturday appearances at the Grand Lake Farmers Market. She’s currently working out of a commercial kitchen in Oakland but says she is excited to give the business a more permanent home and to make it even easier for people to find her bagels. “We really want to build a little community, that’s been the best part of the farmers market — seeing kids grow up and hearing about people’s vacations,” Kashuk says. “I just want to remove all the barriers, like just come get a bagel. I love bagels, it’s my passion. But also, it’s just a bagel.”