Better Bagels Is Opening a Seaport Shop

The Somerville-born pop-up is the latest to add a brick-and-mortar to Boston's growing bagel scene.
Better Bagels Boston

Better Bagels. / Photo via Facebook

Boston’s bagel renaissance rolls on: Better Bagels is the latest pop-up to announce it will open a brick-and-mortar bagel shop, this time in the developing Seaport Square neighborhood, the Boston Herald reported. Better Bagels signed a lease in the Watermark building earlier this week, cofounder Sam Harden says, and the shop could open by the end of the year.

Harden and James Grimes began developing their recipes for New York-style bagels in their Somerville apartment about two years ago. Grimes’ family owns and operates the Hot Bagel Bakery in Oakhurst, N.J., and when he found out his Craigslist roommate Harden was a trained chef who previously worked with Rachel Klein at Om and Ken Oringer at Clio, Grimes suggested they figure out how to fill the void of chewy rounds in the Boston area.

They weren’t the only ones who had that idea recently: Better Bagels will join Mary Ting Hyatt’s Bagelsaurus, Moody’s Delicatessen baker Luke Fetbroth’s gluten goods, and Rachel Sundet’s offerings at the new Jewish deli Mamaleh’s. Two new bagel makers have recently popped up—Benchmen Bagel Co., by Yvonne’s pastry chef Liz O’Connell, and Levend Bagelry at the Boston Public Market—and fellow pop-up darling Exodus Bagels is also making its own deli happen this year. Exodus recently launched a Kickstarter to help fund their Roslindale restaurant.

Better Bagels officially launched in January 2015, and it has since built up a following with regular appearances at places like Coppa and Night Shift Brewing. Better Bagels are also on the menu at cafes and restaurants like Somerville’s 7ate9 and Grafton Street in Cambridge.

Opening a breakfast and lunch place has always been the plan, Harden says. The duo has been looking for real estate for about a year, and they are excited to be on the forefront of Seaport Square, he says. Shake Shack is poised to be the first restaurant in the new, 23-acre neighborhood when it opens on Tuesday.

“James and I have always liked the Seaport district. We used to take [visitors] there to the Harpoon brewery. Back than, that was, like, the only thing. We’re really excited to be a part of this next district and hopefully help define the area,” Harden says.

At 680 square feet, Better Bagels will be the smallest storefront among the Watermark building’s ground level retail options. Harden will move the bagel-making to the shop, and it will sell bagels and cream cheeses, as well as some deli-style breakfast and lunch sandwiches. With their pop-ups, Better Bagels has stuck to traditional flavors, like salt, everything, and cinnamon raisin, but Harden has developed some more unique flavors, like a matcha bagel, and a togarashi flavor that’s on the menu at the new Saltie Girl.

“We go for heavy hitters when we do pop-ups. With a shop, we’re going to expand the variety of bagels,” Harden says.

Sandwiches will start of traditionally, too, including chicken, tuna, and egg salad, and bacon or sausage, egg, and cheese. The duo will continue to make their own lox, as well as flavored cream cheeses, like garlic scallion, and candied bacon.

Construction is just beginning on the Better Bagels storefront. Whether they’ll have space for dining in remains to be seen, Harden says, but the space is zoned for a couple outdoor seats, which could come to fruition next spring.

“We’re excited to get this open as soon as possible and get people some good bagels and lox in the Seaport district,” he says.

betterbagelsboston.com.


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com