Meet Dave The Bagel Guy
Ed. Note: Bagel lovers, search no more for your Memphis fix. Contributor and Memphis food expert Stacey Greenberg has the scoop.You’ve probably been seeing some fresh faces on the I Love Memphis Blog. Be on the lookout for even more this month. – Holly
Apparently Memphians have been jonesing for a really good bagel.
David Scott, 26, moved to Memphis from Portland, Oregon in October of last year. He started “Dave’s Bagels” shortly after and has basically been making bagels (by hand!) around the clock ever since.
“Honestly, bagels were always my favorite breakfast food,” says Dave, who was born in New Jersey. He spent a few years backpacking across the country and had trouble finding the bagels he was used to growing up. “I couldn’t find anything good past sourdough on the West Coast,” he says.
Dave decided to try making bagels himself, thinking ‘How hard could it be?” Well, it turns out it was a lot harder than he thought. “I’ve been tweaking my recipe for three years,” he says. “In Portland, I had a Jewish friend from Brooklyn who was my official taster. One day, she told me I had something good and that I should sell them.”
But in Portland, bagels were just a hobby, since it’s an expensive place to live and Dave was busy making ends meet. But once he got to Memphis, he says he didn’t want to do anything else.
“I made a home batch of 50 bagels and went around town to grocery stores and bakeries and passed them out,” he says. “I had my number on the bag.”
His last stop was the Curb Market. “Pamela [the manager] is gluten free, but her staff loved them. She told me to get a business license and come back,” says Dave.
What makes Dave’s bagels so special? Well, he’s got trade secrets he can’t divulge, but says the overnight fermentation is key. “There are some chemical reactions that happen in there to create great natural flavors,” he says.
Dave has seven varieties of bagels (plain, everything, sesame, poppy, cinnamon raisin, cinnamon apple, and chocolate chip), and the “everything” is the most popular. He started selling them at the Curb Market on Sunday, November 6th. He sold them every Sunday through December, and thanks to growing demand, began selling them on both Saturdays and Sundays in January.
Making 200-400 bagels by hand each week is no easy feat. (His goal is 500-1000.) Dave works out of a commercial kitchen near the Trolley Stop Market and puts in 8-10 hour days. He keeps a steady pace dividing, weighing, and forming the dough, repeating that cycle for hours and hours. “I can do two dozen an hour by hand. I love doing it. I put my head down and go. Time flies,” he says.
Dave has also inadvertently gotten into the pretzel business, sort of. “Davin from Wiseacre contacted me and asked if I ever experimented with pretzels. I said no. He said he had and it wasn’t too different from making bagels. So, I got some spent grains and played around,” he explains.
Davin loved what he had made, and now Dave will be serving fresh hot pretzels at Wiseacre’s Febtoberfest on Saturday (that’s today folks – Feb. 11!) when he’s done at the Curb Market.
Depending on how they sell, or if they attract buzz, Dave may consider devoting some time to regularly making pretzels. As business booms, he’s deciding whether to hire an employee and hoping to someday be able to invest in a $4300 bagel former. “I had no idea it would happen this quickly. Apparently Memphians love bagels. I guess it’s a thing. I owe Memphis a lot,” he says.
The Curb Market is temporarily closing, so Saturday, February 11, will be his last day there until they reopen in Crosstown in May. Then he will sell his bagels every day. In the meantime, he will be selling them at Otherlands, and hopefully a few other coffee shops in town. Come summer, he will be at the Memphis Farmer’s Market.
Find Dave this Saturday, February 11th:
P.S. Dave says his bagels paired with Tom’s Tiny Kitchen pimento cheese is pretty magical.
About The Author
Stacey Greenberg is a freelance writer who lives in Cooper Young with her two teenaged sons. She’s a contributor to Thrillist.com, Edible Memphis, I Love Memphis, and Memphis Travel. She’s also the author of the award winning blog, Dining with Monkeys (diningwithmonkeys.com). A lifelong Memphian, she loves the fact that she’s never met a stranger here.