The cafe is still to come, but Wise Sons Bagel is already baking at 1520 Fillmore (right).
By CHRIS BARNETT
The Wise Sons had planned to open their new bagelry at 1520 Fillmore in December, but it didn’t happen. Now it looks as if Wise Sons Bagel won’t woo the schmear set for another two months at least.
“If I were a betting man — and I’m not — I’d say two months into 2016, possibly longer,” says co-owner Evan Bloom. “We haven’t even created our bagel yet.”
But they’re already baking in their Fillmore location. The ovens are fired up, with bakers working two shifts pumping out rugelach and Wise Sons’ signature chocolate babka dessert for their deli on 24th Street in the Mission, a cafe in the Contemporary Jewish Museum and a Ferry Building outpost staffed three days a week.
“We want to open, but we don’t want to rush it,” says Bloom. “Right now we’re trying to find good people to mix the dough, bake the bread, interface with customers, toast the bagels, mix the coffee — and get our power upgraded. We’re still trying to figure the store layout while getting the bagels rolling. We haven’t even settled on the coffee supplier yet.”
But the fundamentals are in place. The long, narrow 2,000-square-foot space with 30-foot ceilings, previously occupied by Sushi Boom, will be mostly a bagel bakery, but it will also have cafe seating for 12 to 16 in the front, including a stand-up bar, and — they hope — sidewalk seating.
Customers may be schmoozing, but they won’t be noshing on the monstrous pastrami or corned beef sandwiches slathered in mustard or other deli fare served at the 24th Street mothership.
“We’ll be more of a grab-and-go shop and less of a hangout,” Bloom says. “You’ll be able to pick up a pound of pastrami, or lox and pickles, and take it all home. We just don’t make the sandwich.”
The pressure is on. The New York Times ran a long feature story in its Sunday magazine headlined “Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California?” that raised hopes for a bagel from Wise Sons. Bloom and co-owner Leo Beckerman also had a cameo appearance in Deli Man, the hit indie documentary love story on the slow but steady demise nationwide of real honest-to-God Jewish delis. Wise Sons was the only deli in the Bay Area included.
“Deli Man definitely helped us,” Bloom says, “and we do get recognized — which is so ridiculous — but people trickle in because of it.”
A fire wiped out their new Mission commissary, delaying plans to add bagels. Now, on Fillmore, they’re hoping to bring back some of the flavor from the days a century ago when this was a Jewish neighborhood.
The Fillmore was mostly a Jewish neighborhood circa 1900, a legacy Wise Sons will honor.
“We’re going to keep it simple,” says Bloom, “with just five types — a plain, an ‘everything,’ sesame seed, poppy seed and salt. It’ll be a good old-fashioned bagel starting with quality ingredients, with no additives, no extenders. It’ll be boiled with a good, crunchy chew on the outside and a soft interior with a good ratio of texture and flavor.”
Until then, the two pals and business partners who both went to UC-Berkeley have plenty of schlepping to get the doors open. And they’re keeping busy clarifying what Wise Sons is all about.
“We’ve been called Jewish fusion,” Bloom says. “We’re really Jewish soul food.”
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