Highly anticipated Westman’s Bagels and Coffee is nearly ready to serve up its first boiled and baked masterpieces with just the right amount of schmear — maybe even opening in time to enjoy a few of the final days of Chanukah. Sometimes big expectations get packed into small spaces on Capitol Hill.
“People are passionate about their bagels,” Monica Dimas tells CHS. “Their expectations can be based on a perfect bagel they had in New York 12 years ago.”
Dimas, a big player in making small spaces work, and baker Molly Westman hope to meet some of those expectations and bring a little NYC to E Madison when they hope to finally debut the new streetside cafe and bagel counter next week after months of anticipation.
Dimas said construction issues delayed the opening of the 300 square foot shop previously home to Manu’s Bodegita. The space is a challenge but Westman said she’s ready to put it to good use turning out daily batches of bagels using techniques banged out over months of practice.
“The recipe testing was a very intensive process,” Westman said, adding that she and Dimas also went on a New York City tasting tour of around two dozen different bagel shops.
“We now can tell a good bagel by just looking at the crumb,” Dimas said.
Westman and Dimas said the research showed that bagel bakers are a more secretive group than you may have thought. “There are lots of secrets in the bagel industry,” Dimas said, “and lots of disinformation from other bakers.”
Westman now has a few tricks of her own. With a baking resume including Macrina, Westman will also have high quality ingredients and local sources on her side. Willapa cream cheese, for example, is an excellent head start. Westman’s will also feature the best in alternative schmears including tofu cream cheese and even a vegan schmear. You’ll pay $1.50$2.00 for a bagel. Add $2 for the cream cheese, etc. Expect seasonal options of lox and other types of fish Dimas has been exploring. How about an egg sandwich? Or fish eggs on your caviar bagel? Fridays will bring challah including a vegan variety. Just don’t expect any gluten free bagels — Westman says they are impossible. UPDATE: Sorry, cheapskates, we hosed up the pricing information. Sorry for the error!
Westman’s is a morning play with plans to be open Mondays through Fridays, 7 AM to 4 PM. Coffee will come from Caffe Vita with beans for sale from New York’s Sey Coffee. Dimas says she sees Westman’s as part of building a “morning culture” for the neighborhood. Westman puts it a little more plainly. “We’re not eating enough breakfast,” she said.
The opening of a daytime venture will bring a little more balance to Dimas who is expecting and preparing for life with a new spring baby. Her Neon Taco helps soak up the tequila inside Broadway’s Nacho Borracho while Tortas Condesa fills the counter left open after Kedai Makan graduated from its space neighboring Montana to a full-fledge restaurant around the corner. Her Lil’ Neon Taco is planned to open on First Hill in late January. The new joint along Boren at Madison will also feature lunch. Sense a new Dimas trend here?
In the middle of two openings and with a new baby on the way, Dimas had promised herself no more new projects in 2018 but she and Westman have also used the extra time to open the new bagel counter to start thinking about bigger opportunities. Caffe Vita is already signed up to be Westman’s first — and for a time, only — commercial account. You’ll be able to enjoy a Westman’s bagel on E Pike and beyond. But building a larger bakery — preferably warmer and with a full four walls, Westman says — and meeting the pent up demand for real bagels around Seattle seems like an opportunity that should be seized sooner rather than later. “As dreamy and cute as having a walk-up is, having a larger space makes a lot of sense,” Dimas said.
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For now, it’s time to work out the pre-opening jitters and get ready for the logistics of providing fresh-baked bagels every day to Capitol Hill commuters and neighbors. Neighboring Bullitt Building office workers and visitors to nearby Temple de Hirsch Sinai will also keep the counter busy. How many bagels can Capitol Hill eat every day?
“I’m hoping to find the magic number,” Westman said. “Enough to have for everybody through the day — and one for me to take to eat at home.
Westman’s Bagels and Coffee is planned to open later next week at 1509 E Madison. You can keep track and learn more, keep an eye on Westman’s Instagram account.