Jersey Girl Bagels at UTC serves up authentic New Jersey-style bagels
What’s better than stopping by your local convenience store for a coffee and a bagel before work every morning? If you’re from the tri-state area – New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut – you might say nothing is.
When a New Jersey native and owner of Bagels Jersey Girl Kim Fishman moved to the Sarasota area with her husband and children five years ago, missing that aspect of Jersey. She visited her beloved bagel shop every morning on her way to her corporate pharmaceutical job.
Now living at Lakewood Ranch, her family also missed the distinct taste of Northern bagels. “In the north, we boil the bagels in water,” says Fishman. “It just makes for a softer, chewier bagel. It’s the traditional way to make them, and not all parts of the country make it like that.”
To satisfy her family’s cravings, Fishman learned to boil bagels herself. She made the dough from scratch, let it rise, boiled it and baked it in her own kitchen. Soon neighbors and friends saw his talent and began ordering small quantities from him.
“We set up a Facebook page for our friends to order them, but demand quickly got so high that I figured I had to either stop or open a shop,” says Fishman.
Luckily for us, Fishman chose the latter. She toyed with the idea of opening a ghost kitchen – a popular pandemic phenomenon in which chefs work in rented commercial space and only offer delivery to their customers. But, says Fishman, that option wouldn’t have the community aspect she wanted for her business.
So she found a vacant storefront in the University Town Square next to Kohl’s. It used to be a spa, but with the help of contractors, she gutted the place and rebuilt it with a bespoke stone kitchen, kettle and oven, and a display case for the front.
“We built a window into the kitchen so customers can see how the bagels are made,” says Fishman. “Since opening about a month ago, we’ve had repeat customers who have a favorite menu item. That’s the best part.”
Currently, Fishman makes about 2,000 bagels a day with the help of a newly hired pastry chef. On the days she makes the dough, she arrives at the store at 3:30 a.m. and goes through the hour-long process of making the dough. It then takes 24 to 48 hours to rise or rise properly.
Then the authentic water boiling process begins.
“It’s the New York, New Jersey way,” says Fishman. “The temperature and softness of the water has to be just right, so we use a water filtration system to mimic that soft, cold city tap water that comes straight from the Catskills. Then, after boiling during the good duration, we cook them until they are lightly browned on the outside.”
Along with traditional flavors like plain, sesame, poppyseed, everything, cinnamon-raisins and onion-garlic, Fishman offers fun flavors like French toast, asiago and cheddar cheese and Instagram-friendly rainbow bagels (which, admittedly, are ordinary paste tinted with various colors, says Fishman).
Jersey Girl Bagels also makes homemade spreads like Classic Cream Cheese, Veggie Scallion Cream Cheese, Maple Walnut Cream Cheese, and Lox Cream Cheese. Fishman also occasionally serves sliced crumb cake and black-and-white cookies, made with his mother’s recipe.
“I only trust my mom to make them,” says Fishman. “I have the recipe, but I only sell them when she’s in town and can make them with me.”
You can also order a bagel sandwich. The shop serves bacon, eggs and cheese, sausage and cheese and the quintessential pork roll, eggs and cheese, made with New Jersey Taylor ham. Or get some roast beef, turkey, egg or chicken salad sandwiches. Order a cup of coffee or tea on the side and you’re ready to start the day. And while the store isn’t currently taking pre-orders or restore orders, Fishman hopes to expand soon and offer more specialty items.
Jersey Girl Bagels is located at 5275 University Parkway, Unit #103, Bradenton. Store hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The store is closed on Monday and Tuesday. For the menu, click on here or call (941) 388-8910.