Like a phoenix rising from some tragic flames earlier this year, the ~WISE SONS DELI~ duo, Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, have some great news to share: they found a new commissary location to replace the one they lost in the January Mission fire. And they’re going to be opening a bagel shop!
They reached out to me last week, letting me know they are currently gutting a space that dates back to the 1920s in the Fillmore, right across from State Bird Provisions. Not only will the 2,200-square-foot space (with 26-foot ceilings!) be a commissary bakery for their production of bagels, rye bread, their famed babka, challah, and rugelach, but they will also be setting aside 300 square feet for a retail section, Wise Sons Bagel. They look forward to keeping the space open and visible so people can see the baking operation, which is going to be pretty big. Good thing they salvaged their special bagel-forming machine.
As for the shop, you’ll be able to order at a counter, choosing from toasted bagel sandwiches (New Yorkers can go ahead and groan, just get it out), schmears, and sliced pastrami by the pound. They also plan to roll out some sable, lox, and sturgeon, plus other items will be in the grab-and-go case, all so your brunch spread at home will rock. There will be 10-12 seats for those who want to hang out, plus some seating outside and potentially 8-10 seats on the mezzanine. Coffee and espresso service will also be offered. The operation will be open daily, from the morning to the early afternoon.
Are they out to re-create New York’s Russ & Daughters? No, Bloom says that while Russ & Daughters is a wonderful and amazing place, that’s their thing, and Wise Sons Bagels will be different. Kind of like what the Bay Area is doing out here in regards to bagels. The New York Times piece “Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California?” from the weekend was, in my mind, a bit off, with a headline that bordered on a Buzzfeed clickbait tone. The headline should have read “Why Local Bakers Don’t Give a Shit About Making a Facsimile of a New York Bagel in the San Francisco Bay Area?” Because that’s the real story.
Maybe it’s because our local bakers like to make bread products that are naturally fermented and full of flavor? I have been thoroughly enjoying our city’s NorCal, artisan, hand-rolled spin on bagels at places like Nopa, Marla Bakery, and 20th Century Cafe (I wrote an article about this more than a year ago). The East Bay’s Montreal-style Beauty’s Bagel Shop, Authentic Bagel Company, and Baron Baking are all making great product too. And then there’s the classic (since 1962!) House of Bagels on Geary, which has a dedicated local following. That’s fine, everyone keep complaining (especially you, New Yorkers) while many of us continue to enjoy all these rather excellent handcrafted bagels.
The article almost set Bloom and Beckerman up like they are going to save the day with their upcoming bagel operation and are here to fix THE SITUATION, obliquely dismissing these other bagel makers—which couldn’t be further from the scenario (hello, they serve Beauty’s bagels on the weekends at Wise Sons Deli). All our local bakers just want to do things their way, which is pretty much how the boys have run their deli from the beginning. (Thank you, don’t change a thing about your matzo ball soup!)
When asked about their bagels, Wise Sons say they will be traditional: “They are proofed for 36 hours and boiled with malt and baking soda so you get a chewy crust with those little ‘fish eye’ bubbles and a depth of flavor that doesn’t just taste like a white roll.” (And you know they are still going to hear all kinds of comments—just like they have from day one.)
Anyway, the bigger and more important point is that we’re going to have a new shop dedicated to bagels. And based on the quality of the other items Wise Sons make, that’s exciting. We deserve this.
It’s interestingly a full-circle kind of scenario for the neighborhood, which Bloom tells me used to have kosher butchers and other shops where SF’s Jewish community would come to do their shopping since so many synagogues were/are nearby. Bloom and Beckerman are looking forward to uncovering more history of the neighborhood as they research even further.
Bloom also wanted to express their profound gratitude to Bi-Rite Market, which has allowed Wise Sons to use their commissary space during this challenging post-fire transitional time and have been instrumental in helping them keep things going. If their projections are correct, they’ll hopefully be baking in the new space in October and probably starting the retail operation soon thereafter.
With future neighbors like BLACK BARK from 1300 on Fillmore, and the upcoming po’boy shop, BRENDA’S ORIGINAL PO’BOYS, from Brenda Buenviaje and Libby Truesdell, this section of Fillmore keeps making me really happy I have my gym right there too. 1520 Fillmore St. at O’Farrell.
The future home of Wise Sons’ bagel operation and commissary bakery. Photo courtesy of Wise Sons.