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It Could be in Skokie, but This Bagel Shop is in Athens

Now there are two bagel shops in Athens.

The homemade pickles are killer.
The homemade pickles are killer.

I took a bite, closed my eyes, and for a second there, I could believe I was eating a salt bagel from Skokie. But no, this particular bagel was from the Ideal Bagel Company, a new bakery and sandwich shop on West Broad Street. And it was delicious.

In fact, all the bagels we bought at the new shop were equally delicious: plain, pumpernickel, garlic, multigrain, honey wheat, onion, poppy, sesame and everything. Especially with a smear of plain or pumpkin cream cheese.

Co-owner William Clarke, a Long Island native, said the shop opened in mid-October. It’s the culmination of five years of work, planning and preparing by Clarke and his partner, Matthew Downes, who owns Luna Bakery. Luna is primarily a wholesale bread company, but you’ll find the bread showing up in deli sandwiches at Ideal Bagel. And you can buy your own loaf there as well. Or two.

In addition to bagels and bread, the shop also serves excellent Counter Culture coffee—my cousin from Augusta drank so many cups she was wired for hours—and deli fare, such as meats and cheeses. If you don’t want lox—what’s wrong with you?--William and his staff serve Georgia trout they’ve smoked and pickles they’ve made. 

So, you can get bagels plain, with cream cheese or with a number of other additions, such as eggs and cheese and vegetables. Or you could go with the Tupelo and get a salt bagel with peanut butter, banana and bacon. Or the Dottie (pastrami, egg & Swiss on an everything bagel) or the 1959 (scrambled egg & ketchup on luna toast). 

Where is this breakfast Mecca? Look sharp when you're heading east on Broad. It's right before Pope, where the Ideal Amusement Company used to be and then the Nuwabians. Treehouse Kid & Craft is next door. The Ideal Bagel Company opens at 7am, so stop by for breakfast and stay for lunch. 


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