David Scott relocated to Memphis from Portland in October, and within weeks began offering his homemade Dave’s Bagels. The business is quickly growing with new distribution opportunities in the works.
It’s often said that New York bagels are superior because of the water.
New Jersey native David Scott already had tried his hand at making bagels before he moved to Memphis in October and soon after opened Dave’s Bagels. Yes, the Bluff City is known for its water, but Scott isn’t a believer that water makes the bagel.
He does believe the location plays a part but it’s more the roots and traditions that come with bagel recipes that have been passed down for generations, specifically among the large Jewish population of the greater New York City area.
Scott grew up in an Italian family in Morristown, New Jersey, and he believes there are ties among the Jewish and Italian populations in New York and New Jersey.
Dave Scott's home-based bagel bakery has taken off in Memphis.
Scott’s favorite breakfast food growing up was bagels. He also spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his mother. He didn’t appreciate it as much as a child, but looking back at his mother’s ever present home-cooked meals he realizes how it helped set the foundation for Dave’s Bagels.
“I’ve always been a cook,” he said, adding that he regularly made homemade by the fifth grade. “My mom always made everything as fresh as possible. As a kid I wanted the TV dinners, but I’m glad she gave me that upbringing.”
Scott relocated to Memphis from Portland in October and sold his first bagels by early November. It’s been a whirlwind, one that started when Scott made about 50 bagels in his home and took them around town to see if anyone was interested. Curb Market immediately loved them.
“They told me to go get my business license, come back and we’ll make something happen,” Scott said. “They gave me my first platform.”
That entry point is temporarily on hold as Curb Market closed on 596 Cooper Street in anticipation of reopening in Crosstown Concourse. Scott will sell his bagels at the new Curb Market location when it’s up and running.
For now, he’s in a shared commercial kitchen on Madison Avenue in the Edge District.
“We’re able to work in here well without getting in each other’s way,” he said of the space at 694 Madison Ave. he relocated to in mid-February with a couple of other food and beverage manufacturers.
Scott takes individual online orders through Facebook and Instagram at @davesbagels. Customers pick up the bagels on Fridays between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
But there are other ways to get a taste of Dave’s Bagels. Scott said his bagels are available in a few cafes and restaurants including the brunch menu at Strano Sicilian Kitchen & Bar. He is in the process of finalizing deals with a few other eateries as well.
Long term Scott said he’d like to distribute the bagels to area grocery stores, which might put a stop to the individual orders.
One important step to make that growth possible will come if Scott can secure a special forming machine. He currently hand forms 100 to 150 bagels per day. The machine will make it possible to form up to 1,000 a day, which will lessen the toll on his hands. He still needs to secure funding for that machine; he hasn’t yet built up enough revenue from selling bagels.
“That will be great for expanding,” he said. “Between that and adding a part-time employee … this one-man operation cooking, producing, selling, working out distribution deals, my schedule is packed. I’d love to focus on expanding since I have the quality and methods down.”
Dave’s Bagels offers 10 flavors, including plain, chocolate chip, sesame, an everything bagel and cinnamon apple flavor. The everything bagel is the most popular, Scott said.
He also creates custom bagels that complement whatever a restaurant or venue has in mind. He recently made a pretzel for Wiseacre Brewing, for example.
So far, Scott hasn’t sought many outside resources such as small business loans to operate. But as the business grows he said it’s something he might explore.
“Demand is growing now,” he said. “If I can get that one machine that would help me get to the next tier of business and provide bagels citywide and grow the brand.”