For fans of B&B Bagel Co., things are about to get twice as nice.
In August, a second B&B location will open on Elm Street in downtown Columbia, serving up local boiled and baked favorites on the go. Currently, B&B bagels are sold in a few cafés downtown – Lakota, Coffee Zone, and Shortwave Coffee – but owner Brad Newkirk is looking forward to expanding B&B’s presence and community in a town he and his business have happily called home for two decades. “I‘ve lived in a college town forever because I wanted to be in a college town,” he says. “And now I'm actually going to be in the middle of the college atmosphere.” Near the heart of Columbia, Newkirk sees an opportunity to reach students who don’t usually venture far from campus. “Most kids who live on campus don’t know that there’s a south Columbia; they don’t know Providence goes that far south,” he says with a laugh.
And they might not know what a traditional bagel is, either. “By definition, a bagel has to be boiled and then baked,” Newkirk says. “What the boiling part of it does is shocks the yeast so it doesn’t become a big poofy round piece of bread; it keeps its shape better.” He says this traditional New York-style bagel is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and can only be found in a few places around Missouri, including Meshuggah Bagels in Kansas City and The Bagel Factory in St. Louis, in addition to B&B in Columbia. “Every other place that serves what they call bagels are usually frozen or they’re just round pieces of bread that are baked, like sweet bread,” he says. “And if you want a piece of sweet bread, that’s great – but if you want a bagel, the culture, and everything else, it’s very limited where you can actually buy them.”
The shop will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from around 5:30am to 2pm, and though the B&B enterprise is doubling, the menu at the downtown location will shrink to half its size, and won’t have a drive-thru. But this won’t change the quality of the product or the service, Newkirk says – just the time customers might spend inside. “We’re still boiling and baking bagels downtown, but we want people to be able to get our product and go on throughout the rest of the day,” he says. His model is aimed at students, staff and downtown professionals who are looking for a quick lunch or breakfast, or for a snack on game day. “I’m excited about being part of the university more,” he says. “Being slammed on game days more than we’ve ever been before – and we’re already busy on game days, but it’s going to be completely different. You’re actually going to feel the electricity of the university.”
That electricity will only add to the hum of the happy B&B community that has continued to make an impression on Newkirk over the years. “The staff and the customers are just outstanding,” he says. “The only difference between the customers and the employees is that the employees make the food… it’s just this community that’s developed around bagels. It’s such a unique experience, so that’s why I’ve continued to do it. I never thought I’d be in the same business for 20 years, but it just feels like home. It’s been an amazing process.”
Keep an eye out on B&B Bagel social media pages to find out when you can visit the new location downtown.
B&B Bagel Co., 904 Elm St., Suite 100, Columbia, Missouri, bbbagel.com