GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Once, South Street was known in Glens Falls as the “Street of Dreams.” Today, on one block of the street, the dreams of the city have been poured into an empty lot, where a new mixed events space will host farmers markets, concerts and more for the community, as part of a Downtown Revitalization Initiative project years in the making.
Across the street, there’s another dream coming alive. Next to a row of boarded-up windows where bars and a taxi company once operated, something new is in the oven – and coming out fresh every day.
That’s the story of Glens Falls Bagels, the new South Street business that has been one man’s dream-made-reality for the last two weeks – and will be for at least the next five years. He shapes his bagels on a bar countertop, originally used by an Irish pub that operated where he now does at 58 South St. That pub ultimately closed, as did the bakery that took its place. Now, business owner Kerry Smith is staking his own ambitions on fresh dough, sesame seeds and cream cheese.
“My father, when he retired from the fire department, took a chance in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and opened up a bar,” recounted Smith on Thursday, cutting dollops of dough and rolling them out on the clean bar counter to begin their bagel-shaping. “I wasn’t able to take that place over before he sold it. So now I come into this place, and I see the mirrors and the bar and the decor, and it feels like I’m home.”
Home is still coming together. On Thursday, some tables and chairs stood around a somewhat empty dining area, where an oven worked away, baking a batch of bagels proofed by Smith the day before. There’s no proper menu yet, but a board in the front window advertises a bacon, egg and cheese bagel for $5.99.
All of the finer touches are yet to come, and Smith has plenty of ideas. He plans to get local art up on the walls, and use an elevated area by the front window for live music and other events. As Glens Falls Bagels forms, he’ll hire a couple of staff members, and eventually host a grand opening on Jan. 15.
Why then? It’s National Bagel Day.
To start, Smith is busting out the classics. Every day he makes a fresh batch of plain, poppy, sesame, onion and everything bagels – and just about every day, he sees a couple more customers come knocking on his door.
The plan is to serve breakfast sandwiches, as well as bagels with classic cream cheese; and to add new bagel flavors, like cinnamon raisin and jalapeño cheddar. Pizza bagels will also be on the menu, as will bagel pizza – full-sized pies made with the store’s own fresh bagel dough.
From bed and breakfast to bagels
Smith and his fiancee are Brooklynn locals, but Glens Falls Bagels isn’t the first business they’ve had in the North Country. Previously, they were the owners of the Glenmore Lodge, a bed and breakfast on Glen Lake. The lodge was never able to bounce back after the COVID-19 pandemic, but Smith’s time there left him primed and ready for what would come next.
“All our guests were my guinea pigs for my bagel recipe. When we sold the lodge, we sold our home as well as our business, so we moved to South Glens Falls so I could find a new start for my bagels.”
The vacant buildings next to Glens Falls Bagels don’t worry Smith. In fact, he’s happy to be the first new business on the block. From inside, front windows look right out at the former OTB lot that is planned to be the new home of the Glens Falls Farmer’s Market next year, once the city’s long-running DRI project is finished. The project also includes the construction of a large multi-use apartment and business building further up South Street, where the farmer’s market is currently held in the warmer months.
When that project is complete, traffic is expected to be heavy on that stretch of South Street, as Glens Falls’ locals come for their produce and other goods. When they come, Smith will be ready.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I want to be a part of it. I want to feed everybody, just give them a stable place where they can get a bacon, egg and cheese, or a bagel and a coffee.”
The business came as a turnkey operation, with a small but effective kitchen that Smith said has saved him thousands. All he had to obtain was the right kind of oven, which came courtesy of some help from ABC Equipment and Restaurant Supplies in South Glens Falls.
The dreams are as big as the list of things you can put on a bagel. Smith hopes to expand what he can do, with more refrigeration and a fuller menu, once his customer base is better-established. But he knows that good things take time.
“I was an ironworker, and did all these other things (before opening Glens Falls Bagels),” Smith said, pausing as he sprinkled dried onion onto a freshly-boiled batch of bagels he had shaped not 20 minutes before. “Now I’m starting over at 49, with a failed business and hopefully the fresh start to a successful one.”
Glens Falls Bagels is open 7 days a week at 58 South St., and can be found on GrubHub. Smith can be found there every day – boiling, baking, and planning a future for his slice of Glens Falls’ street of dreams.