For the Love of Bagels: If Asked, Scoop Owner Jennifer Davis Would Choose Bagels Over Ice Cream
Scoop owner Jennifer Davis is known for her inventive ice cream and gelato flavors – cheese plate, anyone? – at its dessert locations on the South Hill and at Kendall Yards, but Davis shifted gears in late 2021 and quietly opened Hidden Bagel on the South Hill.
When space for the barbershop in the same building as its original Scoop location at 1001 W. 25th Ave. became available, Davis purchased it to open and operate Hidden Bagel.
He still has a few months to go before he has seats inside for customers at his bagel shop, but pre-ordering, which is highly recommended, and picking up was a resounding success.
Davis recently discussed Hidden Bagel and Scoop over cocktails at Bijou’s new and second location on South Hill:
For the uninitiated, tell me about your journey in Spokane and with Scoop.
Ten years ago my daughter went to Wilson Elementary School. We had just moved here from North Carolina. I was in the restaurant business, but I left because it was brutal. It’s a lot, and I had a young child, and I’m a single mom. We moved to Spokane, she went to Wilson, and I became friends with the original owners of Scoop.
I was doing their books because I had started a consulting company. They told me they were moving to Japan and they were going to close and sell Scoop, and I told them I would buy it. They thought I was joking, but a few weeks later I said I would buy it again. Then a few weeks later they said, “You should buy Scoop.” Good idea!
I bought it in 2011 so just celebrated 10 years with Scoop but it had been around since 2006 on South Hill. I thought it would be manageable because at the time it was a cafe with Brain Freeze sandwiches and ice cream. I knew I would need to make ice cream because I didn’t just want to sell other people’s products.
Brain Freeze, a few years later, moved from wholesale to resale, and they opened in Kendall Yards. I knew I would now need to make my own ice cream in this small space. I did some research and figured out on the internet that I could make liquid nitrogen ice cream. It was 2014 and we were still offering bagels, sandwiches, breakfast burritos and waffles.
Our ice cream really took off, and we ran out of space, so we stopped offering the sandwiches, bagels, burritos and waffles. When I took over Scoop, I moved to the Roast House cafe, and we’ve been working together for 10 years now.
Bagel’s hidden baker, Tom Barber, prepares the dough that will be made into a variety of bagels. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
So you’ve never made ice cream before?
Nope! I literally learned on the internet how to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen. There isn’t a lot of information about it online, especially doing it in bulk. I was able to replace all other sales with ice cream and reduce our hours. When Brain Freeze went out of business, I was able to enter Kendall Yards. I wanted to be there, so it was meant to be.
I want to ask you about Hidden Bagel, but last question about Scoop: how do you find the inventive flavors?
Oh my God, I have stories for all of them! The banoffee pie was my first big hit. I have no formal training, nothing, my mother barely cooked. I learned to cook on the Food Network – Alton Brown, Bobby Flay – in my early twenties. I was in the store trying to find flavors and had heard of banoffee pie. We had all these bananas and caramels. It was my first big hit.
Cheese plate created at a wine festival. During the holidays, we created a Christmas cheese plate, and it was even better. It included cinnamon and blueberry cream cheese, pistachios, and an orange marmalade base.
Why switch to bagels now?
The space next to it freed up and I had the first right of refusal. The space has been a living room for 35 years. You will always see Alicia everywhere in the building. She retired at 75. Its space is 1,400 square feet and the Scoop is 500-600. I knew I wanted to bring back the coffee and the sandwiches, and there was something of a bagel boom going on all over the country.
I wanted something unique in this space beyond coffee, and I love bagels. If you put bagels and ice cream in front of me, I’ll choose bagels. I love bagels and I love the idea of picking one thing and doing it right.
When did you start thinking about opening Hidden Bagel?
It was January, so a year ago, when I started hearing that the salon was going to leave, as the owner was going to retire. I knew I wanted to offer coffee and pastries, but not full pastry service, and that’s when bagels came to mind. Hidden Bagel opened on December 20.
We received the keys in September and the kitchen was commissioned in about four months. We will probably need another two months to set up the space. But we are off to a good start. We offer pre-order and pickup, and we sell.
What varieties of bagels do you offer? What are the most popular flavors?
We make eight different bagels a day, and we just added pumpernickel because people asked for it. We’ve added some sweet ones over the past seven days, but they’re harder for us, so we’re still working on them. Rosemary garlic salt is popular, as is Parmesan pepper. We make our own seasoning using Spiceology. We also use shepherd’s grain.
What was one of the toughest challenges when opening Hidden Bagel?
It was really difficult to find an oven. We would have had to wait until February or March if we had ordered a new one. I bought a used one from my friend Clay Cerna at Sweetbox Delivery. I have known Clay for a long time and he has been very helpful to me.
He had a lot of material from Le Petit Chat which went out of business a few years ago. Half of my cooking comes from Le Petit Chat, so it’s good. When we started making bagels, we had a good batch, but the next one looked terrible – the bagels puffed up too much and there were no holes. There would be these big bubbles that I call “giraffe spots”.
It was very frustrating and it turned out that our oven was about 50 degrees. He told us it was 525 degrees, but it was actually 475 degrees. We fixed that, and I bought a thermometer to put in the oven because I’m smart like that!
How did you learn to make bagels?
I went to New Jersey to practice making bagels. After learning how to make ice cream on the internet, I didn’t want to struggle. I am not a baker. I learned how to make bagels with Beth George from BYOB Bagels. She was in the New York Times and on CBS “Morning News”. She’s a bagel boss.
It’s just me, I don’t have any investors and I knew I had to do the bagels right. I contacted her in March and went to New Jersey in August. Meanwhile, there was another couple in town who had contacted her and wanted to open a bagel shop. Beth and I had such a great relationship, and she loved that I once owned a business.
When did you start making bagels so you could open Hidden Bagel?
We made our first batch of bagels on December 1, so that was about two to three weeks before opening. We probably donated 600-700 bagels. We posted “Hey! We got free bagels at Scoop! Once we turned the corner with the oven, everything was cool and it was time to do it.
What are your personal favorites?
I love parmesan pepper. I like it all. And actually, surprisingly, I love pumpernickel. We don’t do it with caraway seeds. I don’t like caraway seeds. So, we did it without, and it’s really good with strawberry cream cheese. We have about six schmears so far.
Were you worried about opening Hidden Bagel during a pandemic?
Oh yeah. But then Hidden Bagel was almost pandemic fit in the way we run the business. In March 2020, when everything started to close, we pivoted to Scoop and offered pints. We stopped having walk-ins and offered pints online.
The New York bagel lifestyle is that they run out and buy bagels and schmear to go. They’re not sitting in a bagel shop. We’re still in a pandemic so I’m not rushing to open seats inside because it’s so safe and easy now. There aren’t many people around, and people really react to it.
What are you waiting for with Hidden Bagel for the new year?
I’m excited to bring a different bagel to Spokane. I want to make the best bagel possible. It was fun to hear people being excited about our bagels. People ask if we boil our bagels to see if we’re legit. We dont do. We steam them, because steaming is hotter than boiling. Our bagels have a good crunch and a nice chew. People have been very positive about our bagels.
I ordered jalapeno cheddar, pepper parmesan, pumpernickel and all bagel stuff online Saturday afternoon and picked them up Sunday morning. Before entering Scoop and Hidden Bagel, I saw a couple eating their bagels in their SUV. Another customer in his vehicle yelled at me, “They’re exhausted! I replied behind my face mask, “I pre-ordered.”
The whole experience was easy and I loved all four bagels – so I will definitely be back.
Hidden Bagel is open 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday, and closed Monday. Pre-order bagels and schmear on hiddenbagel.com.