Southland Bagel was born on Superbowl Sunday, like any good idea would be.
For the past couple of years, business partners Tom Johnson, Tim Schosser, and Sam Williamson knew they wanted to open a concept together, but they didn’t know exactly what it would be. Towards the end of January, Johnson found himself with a lot of time on his hands and used that time to teach himself how to make bagels. He brought the bagels to a Superbowl party where the concept of Southland Bagel was born.
“I remember saying if everybody goes 100% on this for the first year, we’ll be having a whole different conversation in a year. And it’s been four months. It’s surreal,” says Williamson.
You might recognize the name from the Lexington Farmers’ Market, where Southland Bagel launched in March of this year.
“When we first started, we asked Chef John Foster of Sage Rabbit for pointers. He said go down to Pasta Garage today, have Lesme find you some space in the incubator kitchen and then get in the farmers’ market,” says Schosser.
For the past four months, Southland Bagel has made a name for themselves at the farmers’ market, and found a home at Pasta Garage prepping and boiling their bagels. But the goal was ultimately to have their own location on Southland Drive.
“We wanted to do something that fit that street and felt like it had been there for awhile. That street has always been historically very collective, very weird, but it has its own vibe to it,” says Williamson. “It’s a very unique part of Lexington that still remains that way.”
Southland Bagel has that specific look of a New York bagel shop, and if that look was best fit for anywhere in Lexington it would be Southland Drive.
The bagels are New York style (think chewy on the inside with crunchy blisters on the outside), but made with sorghum instead of malt to add a Kentucky twist to the authentic boil bagels popular in New York.
The new menu will still include bagels and sandwiches with the addition of soups, salads, and baked goods. Bagel flavors will expand to at least ten flavors at a time along with an assortment of cream cheese flavors and a full coffee menu. All the prepping and boiling will be done in house.
It wasn’t the plan for Southland Bagel to become a brick and mortar this quickly, but the perfect location opened up and the three of them couldn’t pass it up.
“It’s like throwing a dart blindfolded and hitting a bullseye over your shoulder kind of thing. It just worked out,” Johnson says.
They launched a kickstarter campaign asking the community to help them make the final jump to their brick and mortar. Southland Bagel plans to open at 428 Southland Drive in September.
“It’s a low risk investment, great way to form relationships with people, and who doesn’t love toasty bread with cream cheese,” says Williamson.
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