CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A pandemic success story has given St. Louis something bagel lovers say it has been sorely needing: really great bagels!
The supply is limited, however, and available for sale only one day of the week. That may soon change.
“This town needs good bagels,” said Scott Lefton, proprietor of Lefty’s Bagels.
It is one of seven “pop-up” bakery businesses, sharing space in the Bakers Hub bakers co-op in the Forum shopping center in Chesterfield on Olive near Highway 141, headlined by the Trolley Track Cookie Company.
It’s been nearly a year since Lefton and his brother-in-law, Doug Goldenberg, a couple of IT professionals, jumped into the part-time bagel business.
Their Apple watches tell them they log 5 miles each in the co-op’s little kitchen, churning out about 400 handmade bagels every Saturday morning.
“We kind of have the “Laverne & Shirley” vibe, “Odd Couple” thing going on here,” they said.
Their social media posts feature their “Scott & Doug” version of the old “Laverne & Shirley” TV sitcom.
The posts have brought them a lot of laughs but the people come for the bagels. They start lining up outside 30 minutes before the doors open at 9:00 a.m. Scott and Doug tend to open early to lessen the wait and the stomach growling. One woman bought 42 for family and neighbors on a recent Saturday. Lefty’s ‘regulars’ certainly understand.
“These are the best in town,” said customer Steve Israel. “They’re the perfect combination of soft, hard, and crunchy. You get all 3 sensations. We limit ourselves to 12 a week. There’s four of us at home. It’s great.”
“I found out (about the bagels) from a friend,” said customer, Mary Reichenbach. “The bagels are amazing. I grew up in New York. It’s the closest thing that I’ve found.”
“We have a guy who tailgates,” Lefton said. “He’ll bring a folding chair, a cup of coffee, a book.”
They credit the purest, top-of-the-line flours and other ingredients along with a lot of hard work.
“So much work. We put a lot of time, effort, and energy into these bagels,” Lefton said.
He started making his own bagels at home when his favorite shop closed during the pandemic. Friends raved about them. Each bagel has its own sort of “bagel DNA.”
“The bagels themselves are hand-formed,” Goldenberg said. “They’re not sent through a machine that’s dividing the dough and automatically forming them.”
They sell out every week. The guys now plan to expand to six days a week in the coming months. They really, really, love bagels.
“Do I look at a bagel and still want to eat it?” Lefton queried. “Absolutely. I can’t eat anybody else’s bagels (anymore). I’m being 100% honest. I’ve tried and I’ve had to throw half of it away.”