Pizza Powerhouse opens Bagel + Slice in Highland Park
LOS ANGELES — Bagels and pizza have long been New York’s provenance.
Los Angeles? Not so much, but a new Highland Park spot could put LA on the map.
Serving organic bagels made from regeneratively grown wheat, sliced pizzas and a pizza bagel that combines its two namesakes, Bagel + Slice is the brainchild of Blaze Pizza co-founder and chef Bradford Kent, whose director he approach to the culinary mainstays of the east coast is resolutely Californian.
The dough is made with organic flour, the orange juice is freshly squeezed, and the homemade cream cheese is available in dairy and cashew varieties.
“The first thing people ask me here is, ‘Are you from New York?’ like New York invented the bagel,” said Kent, who was born and raised in San Diego and educated at both the University of Southern California and the Culinary Institute of America. “They popularized the bagel because that’s where a lot of immigrants went, but if the immigrants went through another city, it wouldn’t have been a convention in New York.”
For Kent, the debate over whether a satisfying bagel can be found on the West Coast is a moot point.
“People who cook with intention and integrity and without ego make the best food, and that’s really what I try to do. I’m just the ship to make the food shine,” said Kent, who’s only been open 10 days but once heard from a New York store about exporting its bagels to the East Coast. .
Kent’s concept is to provide a first-class experience at a not so high price, he said. Organic bagels are $2.85 each or $16 for half a dozen. A slice of pepperoni pizza costs $4.75.
The process seems to pay off. On a recent Friday morning, there wasn’t a single seat free on the outdoor patio, as Bagel + Slice snagged a bargain at a restaurant that was both cozy and nifty.
Decked out in navy blue bus station tiles offset by pops of hot pink, the 1,300 square foot store has indoor space for ordering but is otherwise facing outdoors, along a retail hallway bustling with galleries and cafes.
Located at the corner of York Boulevard and Armadale Avenue in a building owned by neighboring Occidental College and its new Oxy Arts event space, Bagel + Slice was first imagined as a bagel shop.
“I wanted something I could close in the afternoon because I’m already in the pizza business,” said Kent, who also owns Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria in downtown Los Angeles.
He only added the pizza to the menu when his owner asked if there was anything else he could do. Being in such a coveted retail location with 10 other potential tenants vying for the same space, he agreed.
Two distinct concepts for the same restaurant, Bagel + Slice is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., with bagels served in the morning. Salads and slices of pizza are served from 11:30 a.m. until closing.
The bagels and pizza dough are both made with Certified Regenerative Organic Whole Wheat from a small farm in Arizona that is ground on-site at Bagel + Slice.
While Kent cares deeply about the importance of environmentally friendly farming and the space includes a sign explaining this, he acknowledges that most of his customers “just want to know, is it is good ? Is it affordable? Is it fast? Is it safe and clean? Is it fun? Are people nice to me?
“You have to give people food that tastes good, and they’ll come back for it,” he said. “And then you give them a reason to come back beyond the food.”
Kent’s first introduction to a pizza bagel was a frozen Lender’s topped with Prego marinara and a slice of American cheese his mother baked in a toaster oven.
“My mom was giving me these awful pizza bagels, and I was crying, not because I was emotional, but because it was bad food,” he said.
Kent had similar experiences at restaurants like Sizzler, he explained, where his dad scolded him for not liking steak, and at an Italian restaurant that served a meatball sandwich that wasn’t worth the price. worth eating except for the gravy-soaked bun. So, at age 7, he started cooking.
Her approach to food has always been to break things down using her senses. He began formalizing his instinct for food science at the Culinary Institute of America and gained hands-on experience working at the U.S. Department of Defense, which Kent calls “the world’s premier food science playground,” because the agency must generate maximum energy for its soldiers.
It was while working in food product development for the company that prepares meals for Trader Joe’s, Costco, Whole Foods and California Pizza Kitchen that he learned how to develop scalable recipes with easy-to-find ingredients and chief quality. This concept led him to co-found fast-casual restaurant chain Blaze Pizza in 2011. Blaze now has more than 340 restaurants in 41 states across six countries.
Bagel + Slice could also evolve, Kent said, “as a business for good.”
While the bagels and pizza are delicious, Kent is mostly interested in being a role model for big business to adopt climate-friendly practices. In addition to supporting regenerative agriculture, Bagel + Slice uses an electric oven instead of conventional gas.
It is also committed to ensuring the safety of its food and its employees. Instead of using chemical-based cleaners to sanitize surfaces, Bagel + Slice cleans with ozone. Additionally, the restaurant is cashless, allowing for faster payments and fewer accounting errors.
“A restaurant cannot solve a climate problem. A restaurant can’t solve employment problems by treating people with respect and dignity, but if we prove a business model that works, big business is watching,” Kent said. “That’s why we do a lot of the things we do. It’s because we try to do it right.