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Two Bagel Neophytes Are Looking to Fill a Hole in the Mount Vernon Market

Pearl’s Bagels expects to open in the fall

A Montreal-style bagel from Pearl’s
A sesame bagel from Pearl’s
Vanessa Mack/Pearl’s Bagels

A married couple of ambitious home cooks hailing from different corners of the Northeast signed a lease earlier this month for a bagel shop in Mount Vernon Square. Allee and Oliver Cox hope to open Pearl’s Bagels, named after their French bulldog, sometime this fall at 1017 Seventh Street NW.

The shop will sell bagels that are boiled in honey-sweetened water and fired in a gas-powered deck oven. Oliver Cox says traditional flavors will be the focus, and Pearl’s is looking into sourcing from Small World Coffee, which has a couple of cafes in Princeton, New Jersey. Getting smoked tuna spread from Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Co. may be another nod to Princeton. Ivy City Smokehouse will supply the shop with salmon.

Pearl’s won’t make its own cream cheese, but it will blend fresh ingredients in to make scallion and chive, veggie, and strawberry flavors. Sausage and eggs will come into play with breakfast sandwiches.

Vanessa Mack/Pearl’s Bagels

As former media and PR professionals — he worked for NBC News, and she worked for the Travel Channel — the Coxes have their origin story down pat. Because he’s from outside of Princeton and she grew up outside of Boston, both used to regularly chow down on quality bagels. For Oliver in particular, it was a weekly ritual.

“Every town had a lot of bagel shops around,” he says. “It was a weekend or a Friday morning tradition to get a dozen bagels.”

One morning in 2011, Cox woke up and immediately felt annoyed he couldn’t walk to a bagel shop in his neighborhood. He and his wife began experimenting with making bagels at home. After years of toying with the idea of turning their weekend projects into a business, they got serious, offering tastes tests for friends and taking on private catering gigs.

“We’re big-time home cooks, and we’re big-time bagel enthusiasts, so we’re making it work,” Cox says. “We know we’re going to have to learn a lot on the job. We think we’ve got our recipe nailed down pretty good.”

Logos from Pearl’s Bagels
Pearl’s Bagels [official]

Cox says he considers Shaw and Mount Vernon to be “sort of a bagel desert” but acknowledges that options for the rounds in D.C. have dramatically improved in recent years. Call Your Mother has become a sensation in Park View, and its bagels are now available at the Dolcezza in Logan Circle. Just up the street from Pearl’s, the Dacha Market sells goods from Bullfrog Bagels.

When construction is complete, Pearl’s will join the lineup inside a 756,000-square-foot mixed-use space from Douglas Development that already includes Kinship and Metier and will welcome Compass Coffee, British health food stop Leon, and Atlanta-based Persian restaurant Rumi’s Kitchen.

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