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Chicago-Style Bagels Star at Lincoln Park's The Bagelers

By Paul Biasco | April 17, 2014 8:06am
 Chelsea and Jotam Torres opened The Bagelers Coffeehouse this week at 2461 N. Lincoln Ave.
The Bagelers
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LINCOLN PARK — "Chicago-style" bagels are now available on Lincoln Avenue at the neighborhood's newest coffee shop.

The Bagelers Coffeehouse opened Sunday at 2461 N. Lincoln Ave., serving up bagels, croissants, homemade jams and spreads.

"We call them Chicago-style because we are from Chicago and they are little bit sweeter than the traditional bagel," said shop owner Jotam Torres, 29.

The bagels are also boiled, unlike massed-produced bagels, which are steamed.

Torres and his wife, Chelsea, put the toppings both on top of the bagel and mixed into the dough.

Within a month, they expect to begin selling homemade pies.

The Torreses said they came up with the term Chicago-style bagels about five years ago when they first started boiling them at Z&H Market Cafe in Hyde Park.

The Torres' bagel business dates back to 2009 when Jotam Torres was working as a manager at Z&H Market Cafe.

Chelsea was working in banking at the time with dreams of going to pastry school.

The staff at Z&H was talking about how they could never find a good bagel on the South Side, and Jotam jumped on the opportunity.

"I was like, you guys are in luck," Jotam Torres said, because his wife's grandmother "has this crazy bagel recipe, and it's the best in the world."

The truth was, there was no bagel recipe.

When he got home that day, Chelsea was on the couch.

Jotam told her, "You have to learn how to make bagels tonight."

They began experimenting, for weeks boiling batches on their Hyde Park condo's stove, and eventually settled on a recipe that Z&H Market Cafe began carrying.

Not long after, the Torres were making bagels for the Goddess and the Grocer and a number of coffee roasters.

Chelsea went to The French Pastry School and spent some time working at the Peninsula Hotel.

They now operate a wholesale bakery out of northwest Indiana producing 3,000 bagels and 2,500 croissants a week.

The new Lincoln Park storefront has been a "dream" for the Torreses.

They originally inked a deal with the CTA to open at the Belmont Blue Line station, but plumbing and electric work would have cost upward of $30,000, Jotam Torres said.

The Lincoln Park location was their next best bet in an area that avoided "Starbucks saturation" and was also near a university.