Not long after Janet Dob moved from Colorado to Free Union, Virginia, she received an unexpected email: “Are you the woman who made the bagels that my mom fed me every day before school?” it read.
Email was still a relatively novel thing in the late 1990s, and Dob was touched that this college student in Idaho was sitting in his dorm room, thinking about the bagels she had indeed made in her Colorado bakery in the 1980s and ’90s and sold all over the state before the business folded and she moved to Virginia. “This was the kicker,” she says. She knew she had to restart her bagel business.
Around that same time, Dob met and fell in love with Cynthia Viejo, and ever since, the two have built Bake’mmm Bagels into a thriving small business. The Bageladies, as they call themselves, have been a Charlottes-ville City Market favorite for more than a decade, and as of this week, they’re expanding their wholesale bagel operation into more than 370 Kroger stores and approximately 40 Earth Fare stores.
Bread has always been in Dob’s soul. At age 5, she started baking yeast breads with her Gram; by 7, she was making hot cross buns on her own (though her brothers used her inaugural batch as baseballs, she says, laughing). As an adult, she opened her own bakery, and while there started making bagels after coming across a formula in her grandma’s recipe box. There were no instructions, though, so Dob had to decipher the correct rising, boiling and baking method.
After a chatty customer kept her away from a pot of boiling bagels for a bit too long, Dob noticed that this particular batch of bagels was different—in a good way. Turns out, the extra boiling time changes the nature of the wheat starch, to where the bagels have 60 percent fewer sugar and zero wheat starch glucose compared with other bagels. Bake’mmms are also devoid of 13 allergens, including dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts and peanuts.
Dob and Viejo regularly sell out of their bagelini sandwiches—especially the bacon, egg and cheese—at City Market, where they also sell five-bagel bags of most of their flavors (like the plain Big City Original, onion, cinnamon raisin and cranberry apple) that customers can take home and toast themselves. They know most of their customers by name and welcome new ones with big smiles and warm greetings. Dob works the griddle while Viejo takes orders and payments, handing out $1 coins as change (printing paper money isn’t economical, she’ll tell you) and sending people out into the market with a warm bagelini and a recitation of her mantra: “Enjoy this day! Peace and love.”
The Bageladies Cafe and Bake’mmm bagels is the realization of Dob’s dedication to her dream, Viejo says, adding that this business focused on bread is about love, community and support. And though they’re expanding wholesale into grocery stores all over the East Coast, Dob and Viejo promise more bagelinis for Charlottesville in the future, and not just at the City Market, which wraps up its season this month: There’s a Bageladies food truck in the works.
Now that Halloween is behind us, talk has already turned to the next sweets-laden holiday: Thanksgiving. We called local bakeries to see what they’re cooking up this year and, most importantly, when the last call will be.
Family Ties and Pies: Family Ties and Pies is offering both pumpkin and apple pies, as well as a special brown sugar pie this season. Thanksgiving orders should be placed by November 20, and pick-up is available at City Market each Saturday. Call 981-6989.
MarieBette Café and Bakery: If you’re after something beyond the traditional offerings, then MarieBette might have what you’re looking for. This Thanksgiving both a poached pear tarte and a sticky toffee pudding are on the menu. Orders should be placed 48 hours in advance. Call 529-6118.
Paradox Pastry: While custom orders should be placed by November 20, Paradox Pastry will offer an assortment of pecan, pumpkin and buttermilk pies till Thanksgiving at its downtown shop. Call 245-2253.
The Pie Chest: Inside The Pie Chest this holiday season will be a brown butter pumpkin pie, bourbon pecan pie, cinnamon apple crumble and more. Thanksgiving orders have already begun to pour in, and they will be taken by email (email@example.com) in the order they are received. Email at least 48 hours in advance.—Sam Padgett