By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
Looking for your next bagel fix? Village Bagel has a new location in Edwards, evolving from its “pop-up” and “back door bagels” concepts to a brick-and-mortar dream come true.
After just over one year of supplying local coffee shops, restaurants and hotels with hand-rolled, boiled and baked bagels made the old fashioned way, Village Bagel has expanded into its own retail space in the old Freshies locations across from Starbucks, in the Edwards Business Center.
Owners Connie Leaf and Anthony Mazza began the business last year. One dozen bagels at a time, the couple quickly turned Village Bagel into the only traditionally prepared bagel operation in Eagle County. For a while they were producing up to 30 dozen a day out of rented kitchen space in the early mornings at Mirabelle Restaurant in Beaver Creek.
These two talented East Coasters started Village Bagel to bring a taste of home to Colorado — to satisfy nostalgia for the simple comfort foods they enjoyed as children.
“The experience of indulging in a fresh bagel, made the right way with just simple ingredients, time and love, is something very special and nostalgic to me, and something I felt compelled to share with this community.”Connie LeafVillage Bagel co-owner
Leaf grew up an hour outside Manhattan and moved to the valley eight years ago after graduating from college at Colorado University Boulder. She started her restaurant career at 16 with an intrinsic passion for making people happy through comfortable dining experiences.
Mazza has called Vail home now for 18 years. He moved west from his hometown of Pittsburgh after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School. He helped open multiple renowned restaurants in the valley in his early years, and eventually he went out on his own and started his private chef business, Chef on the Fly, which is a play off his two passions: fly-fishing and cooking.
LOOK FOR THE ‘BAGEL’ SIGN
Besides selling to various wholesale partners including Four Seasons Hotel, Loaded Joe’s and Sticky Fingers, the couple grew Village Bagel with “pop-ups” around town, a space at the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show and a word-of-mouth bagel experience they coined “back door bagels,” where customers would place orders directly through its website and could pick up the next morning at the kitchen, hot out of the oven.
But hungry customers don’t have to seek out a pop-up or call ahead to get bagels anymore, they can just show up at Village Bagel. Look for the bright orange neon “Bagel” sign hanging in the window.
“Our convenient location and visibility helps us reach customers driving by that are surprised to finally see a bagel shop in the neighborhood,” Leaf said. “We have the ability to offer great Rococo coffee, fresh squeezed juices and brunch-style cocktails.”
Unique smears are available to order on your bagel as well, from flavors such as hatch green chili to honey rosemary.
‘MADE THE RIGHT WAY’
With a 115-quart mixer, the shop can now mix 32 dozen bagels at a time, and a four-shelf rotating deck oven can pump out 430 bagels an hour.
“Before, we were baking out of a little convection oven out of a rental kitchen, and mixing six dozen bagels at a time out of a 20-quart mixer. This makes it much easier and faster to produce our artisan bagels,” Leaf said.
The flavor for the bagels, she added, is developed gradually over three days.
“We are passionate about simple food made the right way, building flavor slowly over time,” Leaf said.
A true bagel, she shared, is boiled first, then baked. With no processed sugar, no chemical additives and no dough conditioners, “this is an old-world bagel, tried and true,” Leaf said.
“Without that crucial step in production, you simply have bread shaped as a bagel, without the chewiness and added flavor that boiling produces,” Leaf said. “We create a sponge the first day, which hydrates the dough, then we roll each bagel by hand the second day and let the dough rings cold proof in the walk-in, or slowly ferment, to gain even more natural tangy flavor, as well as help create the hard crust that every real bagel has — not like grocery store-style bagels like Lenders or Thomas’.”
OTHER MENU ITEMS
While Leaf grew into the role of head bagel baker since they legitimized the business, Mazza is a professionally trained chef and has elevated the menu with his own childhood favorites, such as scratch-made Sicilian pizzas called VB Pies.
The Di Positano — a white pizza with baby heirloom tomatoes, kale and feta — is an homage to his first restaurant job at an Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh called Tomato Pie.
And Village Bagel offers more than just bagels and pizza. Mazza’s brioche recipe inspired their challah bread (from which they make their French toast), and signature breakfast and lunch items include a turkey BLT, corned beef Reuben sandwich and a fried bologna sandwich called “The Cappy,” named after Leaf’s late grandmother.
Village Bagel is located in Edwards at 34500 U.S. Highway 6, No. B7. The shop is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Deliveries are available for a $25 minimum order and include a $6 delivery fee.
“The thing about our bagels — and any scratch-made baked good without chemical additives — is that they really are best enjoyed fresh, given their short life line,” Leaf said. “The experience of indulging in a fresh bagel, made the right way with just simple ingredients, time and love, is something very special and nostalgic to me, and something I felt compelled to share with this community.”
For special orders and deliveries, call 970-855-2940, or send an email to VillageBagel1@gmail.com. Coffee shops, restaurants and hotels can call Leaf at 914-886-8851 for information on the Village Bagel Wholesale Program.