Kismet Bagels opens in Fishtown with bagel sandwiches and more
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The partners behind Kismet bagels are planning an April launch for their first storefront, adding to the increasingly delicious landscape of Philadelphia bagels with a boutique in Fishtown.
Co-owners Alex and Jacob Cohen, a husband-and-wife team who describe themselves as avid bagel eaters and self-taught makers, started their business during the early pandemic shutdowns, selling homemade bagels to friends and neighbors.
Pop-ups with other independent chefs helped boost the brand’s credibility, including one with Freelance Pizza selling “special after-school” pizza bagels, and another Hoagie Dom offering everything he wanted. there are bagel hoagies.
The quality of their product caught the attention of DiBruno Bros and GoPuff, launching Kismet’s wholesale business, which has since expanded to over 50 retail outlets. As demand grew, the Cohens became official. They started cooking at Liberty Kitchen and grew into a seven-day business with regular stalls at farmers markets around town.
In November 2020, Kismet moved into commercial space at MaKen North Studios in Kensington. They first shared it with Milk Jawn, but have since taken over the space entirely, integrating nearly 20 employees who now pump out around 17,000 bagels and 500 pounds of cream cheese every week.
Soon you’ll be able to pick up the goods at their very own cafe, a tiny little place at 113 E. Girard Ave., a short walk from Johnny Brenda’s.
To design the interior, the Cohens worked with Ian Chapin, who built the Middle Child Clubhouse and completed the final renovations at the Rally in Bella Vista. Kismet’s 540 square feet. the space will include take-out orders and indoor seating. Take-out items will include individual bagels and bialys, baker’s half-dozens and dozens, as well as schmears and spices.
“We are excited to grow our business and allow more people who have been with us during the pandemic to come full time,” Jacob said. “It’s a big step for us, but we know it’s the perfect time for us to have our own front doors. We are ready.”
A core principle for these new business owners is generosity and leadership. The couple aren’t afraid to hire those without traditional industry experience to grow with them.
“About 90% of our staff had never cooked before, so they all learned from scratch,” Jacob noted. “It was really cool to take the confidence from us saying, ‘Wow, look what we did, we had no experience in this’ and then to be able to cultivate an environment for other people to learn from. “
Kismet employee #2, Erica Pais, started by shaping bagels during the night shift at Liberty Kitchen, but also took it upon herself to help with R&D and event organization. She will now be the one to run the Fishtown shop and hire and oversee a larger team.
Dough production manager Sam McNamara has gone from working on the line to being a “devoted student of bread,” baking sourdough loaves that Cohens plans to sell at the next store. Lissy Rodriguez, a professional pastry chef who was recently promoted to manage kitchen operations, remains the rare employee with a culinary degree.
It’s a two-way street when it comes to mentoring. Other makers like Philip Korshak of Korshak Bagels, Danny DiGiampietro of Angelo’s Pizza, Merzbacher’s of Germantown, Bart’s Bagels and even Mike Solomonov – who serves Jerusalem bagels at K’Far – have all been open to sharing advice.
“Everyone in the city has opened their doors to us, and we can’t wait to do the same,” said Alex. “We also plan to resume pop-ups in the future, and are excited to help other small businesses.”
There will also be a significant charity aspect to their upcoming showcase, with proceeds from sales, pop-ups and other events going to charities chosen by Jacob and Alex.
Kismet’s bagels are chewy but not dense, with a small hole in the middle and a light crisp perfect for toasting.
Their standard recipe calls for King Arthur flour, Pennsylvania milled wheat, yeast, sugar, kosher salt and, of course, water. Bagels are covered with toppings on all sides before being baked. The result is what Alex calls “Montreal on the outside, New York on the inside”.
There are plenty of topping options: black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, everything, rosemary sea salt, jalapeño flakes, and roasted sweet onions. You can also taste custom schmears like the “Spring Fling”, a riff on Yemeni zhug hot sauce with parsley, cumin, coriander, olive oil and crushed red pepper, and one with the homemade pickle spices and fresh dill from Fishtown Pickle Project.
The Fishtown shop will feature staple flavors people know and love – but in true Kismet Bagels fashion, there are also new ideas in the works. A larger production bakery will allow these sourdough breads from McNamara, as well as other baked goods. Also expect the return of limited special flavors like “Cacio e Pepe” and “White Poppy Sumac” bagels.
On the store’s menu will be open bagel sandwiches and breakfast sandwiches, with additions like thick bacon or homemade potato latkes. Drip coffee from Kensington neighbors Moonraker Coffee Roasters will also be available, along with orange juice and iced tea.
The best part? Jacob and Alex promise to keep their doors open after the morning rush – meaning you can grab a bacon, egg and cheese even at 2pm if you feel like it.
Future plans may involve later hours or even late-night menus for people going out to nearby bars. And with neighbors like Fishtown Social and Pizza Shackamaxon, look for many more potential collaborations.
The Cohens haven’t set a launch date yet, but they’re getting closer. To follow on Instagram to stay up to date.
Address: 113, avenue E. Girard, between rue Shackamaxon and avenue Frankford
Departure times: 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday