Albany Bagel Co.

albany bagel everything bagels

Albany Bagel Co. everything bagels.

By Daniel B.

Perhaps you are among the many who have been intrigued by the mysterious Albany Bagel Co., which appeared out of nowhere late last year. They have been tweeting, creating interesting maps of Albany, and teasing all of us with the promise of great bagels.

Well, the wait is almost over. The Albany Bagel Co. will begin retail operations at the Colonie Farmers Market at the Crossings this Saturday.

But who are they? Why are they doing this? And what can we expect when they finally start selling their bagels to the public? We talked with one of the founders to find out.

Albany Bagel Co. is a family affair. Officially it's Michael Dirolf, his two brothers, one cousin and a friend. But it is the Dirolfs' parents who will be sacrificing their kitchen on Saturday mornings for the sake of this venture.

albany bagel co michael dirolf
Michael Dirolf

Michael has loved bagels since his first taste of Bruegger's as a kid in Albany. However, after graduating from college he found himself in Manhattan, and had a bagel reawakening. New York City bagels blew the doors off anything he had tried since, and after moving back to Albany to be closer to his family, he was now dissatisfied with the local options.

Concurrently he and his cousin were looking to get involved with the community. They were thinking of doing some kind of volunteer work. But when the notion of starting a bagel company emerged, someone had the idea of donating all of their profits back to the community.

Originally Albany Bagel Co. was conceived to be a truck based operation. But given the challenges of operating a food truck across the various cities in the Capital Region, that initial idea was put on the shelf.

So the farmers' market is a low cost way to test the waters and see if people like their bagels enough to justify expanding into a store.

Michael doesn't have a background in baking -- his day job is in software development. But they've spent the last year honing the Albany Bagel Co. recipe in an effort to model the bagels Michael fell in love with at his neighborhood bakery in NYC's West Village, Hudson Bagels. It became a daily stop for him while living there. On the subject of his favorite bagels:

"A lot of people have a very strict definition of what a proper New York City bagel is like. A lot of people claim that they should be smaller. But Hudson bagels seem to be a little bigger, maybe slightly maltier, and definitely chewier. And the bagels that do have toppings tend to have them totally coated to the extreme."

It took the Albany Bagel Co. about a year of research and development to nail their recipe. But they are very pleased with what they've made and say that it's much denser than what's currently available around the region.

Their commitment to quality -- highlighted by an just-in-time baking plan for the bagels -- is impressive. Explains Michael:

"The one big downside of doing the market, especially for a product like bagels, is that we need to be baking them throughout the day. We can't bake them at six, because by the time one o'clock comes around they're going to be bad. So that means that it needs to be more of a coordinated effort than it would be otherwise... The bagels will be fresh throughout the day, one way or another, either that or they won't be there at all. We'll see how it goes."

Luckily his parent's kitchen is in Colonie, just a short walk from The Crossing. Which is good since each batch only produces 20 bagels at a time. That should mean hot fresh bagels for as long as they last. Which may not be very long.

albany bagel co logo

On preparing for the first day of the market Michael notes: "We're just totally clueless what the demand's going to be, so the goal is to bring something between 150 and 200 bagels throughout the day. And honestly, I think that's overshooting what we're going to sell. Because we're only selling single bagels. But if by some miracle we sell all of those, it's enough that we won't have to feel bad about being under prepared."

They will have plain bagels and everything bagels. Since the toppings of everything bagels can vary shop to shop, I asked about those at Albany Bagel Co. "This week it will be salt, poppy, sesame and onion. We have some interesting experiments with everything toppings that I'm actually a huge fan of. But we're trying to decide whether people will be a fan of that experimentation or resent changes to toppings."

All bagels will come with choice of cream cheese or butter (and possibly a tofu spread) for $3, although that is subject to change.

Just don't ask for it toasted. One, because they will not have a toaster at the market. And two, Michael has some thoughts on toasted bagels: "I believe in toasting a bagel if for some terrible reason you are forced to eat a day old bagel. But if a bagel is cooked within the last three or four hours, I feel fairly strongly that it should not be toasted."

Where Albany Bagel Co. goes from here is still an open question. It will depend on how customers react to the bagels. And whether the family still has enthusiasm for the project after months of boiling bagels in the heat of an Albany summer. Will the Albany Bagel Co. expand into a storefront? Or might they revisit the idea of a bagel truck?

We will have to wait and see. Much like you may have to wait for a bagel at the market on Saturday. But hopefully the patient will be rewarded.

Daniel B. is the proprietor of the FUSSYlittleBLOG.

bagel photo: Albany Bagel Co.

Comments

Sounds great. I will definitely check them out. But please, if you do consider opening a store, consider opening in downtown Albany.

Your opinion on bagel toasting is what makes me confidant that you are legit. Ever since Uncle Ricky's Bagel Heaven in Troy closed shop, I've been hoping for a local source so that I no longer have to haul two dozen back to my freezer every time I visit the tri-state area (better than around here, but not as good as fresh)...

Psyched. Hopefully I can get my hands on one of these some day.

(FWIW, I had an everything bagel with cream cheese from Hudson River Coffee House this morning and realized I have missed the simple joy of a warm bagel.)

I'm stoked the first charity they're working with is Homeward Bound Dog Rescue. Woot!

Finallyyyyy!

I wish they were making Montreal style bagels. Montreal bagels are superior to New York bagels.

I've known Mike, his brothers, and cousins for a while now. They are great guys who have put a lot of time and effort into this venture. I hope it is not lost on anyone that they are doing this for no profit, but simply to give back. These are the kind of people we are seeing more and more of in the Capital Region. Young people looking to make this place better. Scooping up a bagel will be easy knowing that your money is going to a good cause and that they taste great. Good luck on Saturday boys, I will be at the next one!

Will they rotate charities, I wonder, helping different ones in turn? Or will be they always be donating to the same one(s)?

Couldn't agree more with the anti-toasting stance. Strong Island native here and I've been looking for a decent bagel since I first moved up here - make me proud.

That Everything needs some Garlic!

Yes! I'm thrilled! There are so many places in Albany to open a bagel shop, New Scotland, Madison, downtown, Lark Street.
Congratulations, and welcome to the neighborhood.

If their bagels are all that and a bag of chips -no pun intended- then they should have no problem opening a profitable shop. People will always go out of their way for a top notch product, especially if that product is priced reasonably.

Thanks for the article and the comments! We hope the albany community likes our bagels as much as we do!

@KB - we will be rotating charities throughout the summer. Anyone involved with a local charity and wants us to sponsor them, get in touch with us!

Oh. This gets me very excited. Yes.

What about the former Leo's bakery spot near New Scotland Ave for your spot.
Please include my favorite bially's, and onion rolls.
$3 is rather steep though!

I was lucky enough to be a "taster" last month. They are ALL THAT!. Can't wait to get my hands on another one. Good luck to a hard working group.

This could have potential, but to share a couple of questions and thoughts:

1) Will their bagels be properly boiled before cooking? I don't need another roll with a hole in the middle, even if it's a good-tasting roll.

2) As someone who prefers topping-less bagels, $3 is pretty expensive, even accounting for Farmers Market prices (although counterpoint, I think someone sells egg sandwiches at the Delmar Farmers Market for like $7, when you can get a presumably much better egg sandwich just up the street at McCarroll's for less than half that).

3) Suggestion: at the bagel shop of my childhood, cinnamon raisin bagels cost more (maybe like $0.85 to the $0.60 price of other bagels). This was an interesting construct, and made cinnamon raisin bagels a "treat."

4) So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em.

@Nic thanks for the thoughts! Never fear, our bagels are properly boiled.

Ahhh I can't wait to have one of these. Can't make it tomorrow, unfortunately, but I'll be at next week's farmer's market just for this!

Also: egg bagels, please!

Best logo ever!!!

I agree- cool logo.

Did anybody go to try these guys out. If so, what's the concensus? I plan to go at my earliest convenience, which will be June 1.

I think these guys are going to be mobbed by bagel-deprived downstaters...

Can we get downstate-style service too? Friendly enough but also QUICK? I'd settle for quick-ish, even. A secondary problem with capital district bagels is the glacial pace at which they are often prepared.

Or am I just too demanding? :)

@Julia obviously biased :), but we thought it went well for our first day. Looking forward to seeing you!

@MattC the pace was probably a bit slower than it should've been on Saturday but we're still working out the kinks. Hopefully we'll be at least quick-ish soon, if not downright quick.

Oops, I was actually addressing the speed comment at some of the area's more established bagel vendors. I didn't have chance to check you guys out yet, but definitely will.

I'm sure if people like your bagels they'll forgive any kink-working-out that has to be done.

Good luck with your endeavor!

I tried one of these Albany Bagels and the texture was great! I'd surely buy from this small business!

I agree with mg...the former Leo's Bakery on New Scotland is the perfect spot for a bagel shop. I'll buy one everyday!

if you get a store AND you make an egg bagel you should call it

The Egg bagel.

GET IT?

How are you getting around the tight restrictions on what kitchens you can use for cooking food to be sold? Do your parents have a good enough kitchen to get by all the regulations?
Will be interesting to see if the bagels and the no toasting concept catches on. Sometimes if you tell people what "they should be wanting", and they take it as an insult.

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