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GR Bagel welcomes community into new storefront

Owners Rene Pascal Kalter and Lisa Barhydt open their bagel shop storefront at the previous home of the Uptown Kitchen in Eastown.
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GR Bagel

423 Norwood Ave SE

Grand Rapids,MI 49506

Monday-Saturday 6 a.m.- noon

Sunday 7 a.m.-noon

Closed Tuesdays


Owners Rene Pascal Kalter and Lisa Barhydt

Owners Rene Pascal Kalter and Lisa Barhydt /Caitlin Hoop

/Caitlin Hoop

For over a year, GR Bagel has been educating the community on what really makes a bagel a bagel. Most larger bakeries use ovens which steam the bagels during the baking process. Shorcuts like this take aways the chewy quality, and give the bagel a doughy bread like consistency. According to the back of the staff t-shirts, real bagels swim.To be considered a real bagel, not only must it be boiled but the hand rolled dough has to go through a 24-48 hour fermentation process in the cooler.  

According to co-owner Rene Pascal Kalter, thier bagels take up to four days to make from start to finish. At GR Bagel, after the bagels are hand rolled and ferment in the cooler, they are dropped in a large kettle of boiling water for about 60 seconds before baking. This step is crucial in creating the product Grand Rapidians have gone crazy for since February 2013, when GR Bagel started renting space in the Uptown Kitchen.

When they moved here in 2012 to be closer to family, Kalter and Lisa Barhydt never intended to open up bagel business. Unable to find employment with local bakeries, Kalter considers this turn of events a stroke of good luck. 

“This was never the plan,” he says. “When we arrived in Grand Rapids though, I ate some really bad bagels.” 

Barhydt saw this as a huge opportunity since no one in West Michigan was making a decent or real bagel. Self titled bagel purists, she convinced Kalter that the way to fill the bagel void was for him to bake them himself. One of her relatives pointed them in the direction of incubator kitchens.

“A lot of things fell into place for us in the beginning,” Kalter says. He credits a large portion of their success to the support of local business around town. 

Over the course of the past 22 months, GR Bagel has witnessed nothing but growth. From starting out selling their product at local farmers markets, they expanded to provide bagels to local shops through wholesale accounts. Currently they are pushing production towards an average of 1,000 bagels almost every day, with these numbers consistently growing. This past summer they were financially able to purchase the incubator kitchen and slowly expand the team of employees. 

This past week, GR Bagel had their soft opening of their storefront at the kitchen. Not only are they selling their popular bagels, but they are also crafting fresh cream cheese in house and currently have a menu of breakfast sandwiches. Rowster Coffee has created a special blend specific to GR Bagel, which is only available at the bagel shop. On the weekends, customers can enjoy a bagel and lox as well. For those with more of a sweet tooth, Kalter is also baking scones, cookies, cakes and other sweet treats. 

“We are thrilled to have the support of places like Rowster Coffee on board with us,” he says. “It’s exciting.”

All their ingredients are organic, and whenever possible they use local. They appreciate their local partners here in town, which is evident in the large chalkboard designed by Hallie LeBlanc by the door listing all the local purveyors that provide ingredients for GR Bagel. They have built relationships with businesses such as Creswick Farms, Nourish Organic Market and Deli, Farmlink, Michigan Bee Company, Crisp Country Acres and Guernsey Farms Dairy.

Both Barhydt and Kalter are very passionate about their business, and their excitement was evident to those who came to opening day. 

“They have another level of customer service here,” mentioned a customer. “They are so passionate about bagels and it shows in how much they care about their customers.” 

When David Vessey, the first customer walked in at 6 a.m., he was greater with smiles and a hug from Barhydt. A customer since the infancy of GR Bagel, he was glad to support the venture. 

“We have been getting bagels from them for quite a while,” says Vessey. “My boys love them, and whenever we get a delivery it is like Santa arrived.” 

The hours this winter for the public at GR Bagel are 6 a.m. until noon, Monday-Saturday, with Sundays opening at 7 a.m. They are closed on Tuesdays. From 6 a.m.- 7 a.m. Mondays-Fridays they have a happy hour called ‘Short and Round’ where customers can get a short coffee and a round bagel for only $2. 

Right now the menu only includes bagels and breakfast sandwiches, but as the weather gets warmer the menu will expand. Kalter talks of the possibility of more lunch items, such as sandwiches or pizza bagels. This winter serves as their soft opening, with the hard opening occurring sometime in the spring. This period will serve as learning experience, seeing what works and what doesn’t. 

“We will be doing some fun things as the season changes and more unique produce becomes available,” he says. “I want to do things that no one else is doing.” 

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