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A Weekend Bagel Pop-Up in Logan Circle Helps an Accomplished Chef Stay Busy

Rob Rubba is playing with dough at Estadio while waiting to open Oyster Oyster

Chef Rob Rubba’s bagels at Estadio’s new impromptu pop-up.
Chef Rob Rubba’s bagels at Estadio’s new impromptu pop-up.
Rob Rubba/Estadio
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

As more D.C. restaurants diversify takeout options to keep some revenue coming in during the coronavirus pandemic, longtime tapas go-to Estadio has turned to hosting a weekend bagel pop-up in Logan Circle.

Dubbed Scrappy’s, the project gives chef Rob Rubba something to do while he waits to open his mostly vegetarian restaurant, Oyster Oyster, in Shaw. On Sunday, a test-run of Scrappy’s was a success. Rubba sold out of 150 bagels in three hours. The next takeout takeover is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Bagels ($2.25 each) can be taken home and frozen, too.

The short menu includes everything, sea salt, and sesame bagels alongside 8-ounce containers of spreads like lox schmear, French toast butter, and baba ghanoush. Rubba will add a bagel sandwich next weekend. Scrappy’s will also offer to-go quarts of bloody marys and fresh-squeezed orange juice for DIY mimosas.

“[Rob and I] were brainstorming how to cobble together ways to make our program at Estadio sustainable through this period with skeleton crews,” says Estadio owner Max Kuller, a partner in Oyster Oyster.

When Rubba was 14, he worked at a Manhattan Bagel shop in South Jersey. He developed his reputation in D.C. as the founding chef at Hazel, where he became known for serving kimchi gnocchi, zucchini bread with chopped liver, and a best-selling “smoked onion ciabatta” take on pizza.

Rubba lets his bagels rest in the fridge overnight to develop more flavor. The next day, they’re proofed, boiled in seasoned water, and baked in Estadio’s bread ovens.

Bagels are an ideal offering for the cash-conscious consumer currently in lockdown mode at home: They’re $2.25 each and can be stockpiled in a freezer.

The weekend pop-up fills a hole in D.C. while beloved bagel brand Call Your Mother remains closed. In the interim, CYM owners Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira are posting cooking videos on Instagram and donating all proceeds from online merchandise sales to employees. Sister spot Timber Pizza is doing the same. South American-themed cafe Mercy Me, expected to originally open this spring, is now delayed as a result of the restaurant world coming to a halt.

Oyster Oyster is also awaiting the city to lift a dine-in ban and get its regulatory agencies up and running.

“We were planning to open Oyster Oyster three days ago, as of three weeks ago. So to have that timing was disheartening,” Kuller says.

The Scrappy’s pop-up follows the idea of installing a daytime grab-and-go component to the garage hangout at Oyster Oyster’s space in the City Market at O building. Scrappy’s refers to a goal to use food scraps and a desire to be resourceful in a rough time for the restaurant industry.

Estadio is doing just that by pivoting to a takeout-only model during the week, offering to-go paellas, tapas, and drinks from Monday to Friday (starting tomorrow). A takeout window follows social distancing protocols for people waiting in line. Seafood and veggie paella plates come in three sizes. There’s also large-format gin and tonics from barman Adam Bernbach, along with sangrias, beer, and access to its full wine cellar.

“We are trying to make pricing attractive to keep revenue coming in,” Kuller says, adding “we are hoping business picks up enough to stick with it. Takeout is not coming close to covering costs.”


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