Two of Del Ray’s rising culinary stars are joining forces in the idyllic Alexandria neighborhood to revive a popular bagel pop-up with its first dedicated space.
Renowned biscuit maker Nicole Jones, an owner and chef at Stomping Ground, has teamed up with self-taught baker Chad Breckinridge to move his Bagel Uprising brand into a space next-door to her booming Southern cafe. In a delicious bit of irony, the partners have signed a lease to put a bagel shop in a building (2307A Mount Vernon Avenue) that last housed Happy Tart, a gluten-free bakery.
“There’s a pent-up demand for some quality gluten here in Alexandria,” Breckinridge says.
The partners signed a lease on the space in February. After navigating electric issues, they recently received their permit for a ventilation hood, and they aim to open by the end of the summer. Bagel Uprising will have a conveyor oven that offers consistent heat without the need to open and close it all day. An outdoor seating area will help relieve the small space inside.
“I’ve been telling people about six weeks [until opening],” Breckinridge says. “But I’ve been saying six weeks for about 12 weeks.”
Breckinridge is providing a traditional bagel recipe with five ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, brown sugar, and malt extract. His rounds come out to about 4 ounces each, which he says are smaller than many bagels on the market. He doesn’t want to see the “blasphemy” of people scooping the bready interior out of his bagels.
“It’s not a mini bagel,” he says, “but it’s not as big of a hubcap either.”
The IT lawyer started baking bagels for family brunches before becoming a hit at the Four Mile Run Farmers Market a few years ago. After getting to the point where he’d sell out of 600 bagels a day — a job that resulted in 80-pound sacks of flour piling up in his study — he moved into local ice cream shop Dairy Godmother for a six-week residency in 2017. He then lugged his commercial mixer and 40-gallon kettle into a sublet arrangement at SnackBar.
He had to move out when that place closed about a year ago to make way for Catch on the Avenue. That’s when Jones reached out to propose a partnership, adding to a busy year that’s included bringing Stomping Ground into the new food court at Tysons Galleria.
In addition to providing her operational expertise, Jones will be exploring roots from the Lithuanian side of her family to develop schmears and spreads such as lemony dill cream cheese and apple lingonberry jam.
Listing her grandmother and great grandmother as inspirations, Jones says she’s been going through family recipes for ideas. She’s already developed a smoked whitefish salad and is playing with beet-cured salmon. One idea for a sandwich includes slathering tahini, pomegranate molasses, za’atar, and red onion into a salt bagel. Eventually she’d like to develop versions of her grandmother’s kolache cookies and yeasted honey loaf.
“I have to emotionally connect to food,” Jones says.
The recent success of Call Your Mother deli in Park View has proven the demand for quality bagels in D.C. The crew behind Bullfrog Bagels recently expanded into the former Star & Shamrock space on H Street NE to open a full-fledged Bar Bullfrog. Pearl’s Bagels, another shop from former carbohydrate hobbyists, is expected to open near Mount Vernon Triangle this fall.