Amanda Daly (center) stands in front of the tray oven that will bring east coast bagels to Oak Park. She is flanked by her "bagel partners," Leah Garcia (left) and Adrienne Guldin (right). | Photo by Melissa Elsmo

The Daly Bagel is a few weeks from opening and Amanda Daly has shared details about their soft opening plans.

“I feel like I’ve been saying we’ll be open in two weeks since last July,” said Daly as she scans her soon-to-be bagel shop. “There are still a lot of moving parts to this project, but we can finally see the finish line.”

After a search for a brick-and-mortar location for her burgeoning East Coast bagel business, Daly settled on remodeling the old Zephyr building located at 130 Chicago Ave. in Oak Park in early 2019.

Construction delays and setbacks during the build out have plagued the young business, but The Daly Bagel is nearing completion and opening day is not far off. In fact, Daly has already hired 14 employees and they have completed their first staff training to ensure they will be prepared on opening day.

Daly anticipates opening in just a few weeks.

Today the shop is awaiting final power, gas and plumbing hook ups, but it is clear much progress being made in the retro space. Beneath a layer of construction dust, a light and airy color palate of black, white and “Daly Bagel blue” is starting to emerge.

Banquette seating and a custom-made bagel display are onsite, awaiting installation. A large viewing window, paid for by Daly Bagel Kickstarter supporters, has been installed and will give customers a chance to see the bagel making process firsthand. 

Branded coffee mugs, eco-focused refuse bins and reusable baskets for dine-in meals are being stored in the basement in anticipation of opening day.

Fans are encouraged to follow The Daly Bagel on social media (Facebook and Instagram) to stay updated about opening day specifics. 

“We are aware there are high expectations for the shop, and we are committed to maintaining the quality people have come to expect from The Daly Bagel,” said Daly.

And that means taking things slowly.

During the soft opening, The Daly Bagel will be open from 6 a.m. to noon and offer a limited menu of bagels, cream cheese, drip coffee and tea. In the afternoon, Daly and her employees will assess their progress, restock bagels and practice making espresso drinks with help from the folks at Dark Matter coffee.

As the team’s skills build, the shop will remain open longer while gradually increasing bagel production. As their confidence grows, they will begin adding more menu items to mix and customers can expect to see espresso and lattes followed by desserts. Eventually, an array of sandwiches will round out the menu.

In the meantime, Daly and her “bagel partners” Adrienne Guldin and Leah Garcia are eager to share the progress being made in the shop’s industrial kitchen.

“We’re in the big leagues now,” said Garcia as the trio enters the kitchen.

They show off an extra-large walk-in refrigerator with enough room to hold hundreds of bagels, a four-compartment sink and massive dough mixer. A large piece of equipment known as a bagel divider-former is stationed in front of the shop’s viewing window. It’s designed to help bakers increase production as it both separates and shapes bagels. 

“This machine will help speed up production a lot,” said Daly, “but many of our products will still be made by hand.”

Daly indicates the divider-former will only be used for standard bagel doughs. All colored doughs used to make rainbow bagels and any product containing a high-allergen ingredient will be made by hand to ensure the machine is not contaminated with potentially hazardous ingredients.

A revolving tray oven, with nearby bagel kettle for boiling, anchors the bagel-focused business. The industrial oven has the capacity to bake 500 bagels at a time. During their weekend pop-ups, Daly and her crew of bakery chefs would churn out just shy of 900 bagels in batches of 80 — so the increased oven capacity will be an asset in the shop.

The Daly Bagel will feature 12-15 bagels daily. Among others, the ever-popular plain, onion, sesame, poppy, garlic, asiago cheese, everything, pumpernickel, cinnamon raisin and egg varieties will be included on the regular menu, while specialty bagels like lemon-lavender, chai, maple bacon and pumpkin carrot will be available on a rotating or seasonal basis.

Daly Bagel fans will be happy to know an assortment of custom blended cream cheeses will be available in their popular garlic and herb, berry basil, sweet onion, veggie and goat cheese varieties on a regular basis. Specialty varieties, like a creative “Chicago” cream cheese will make appearances at the store as well.

 Inspired by a Chicago-style hot dog, the cream cheese will feature all the garnishes included on the city’s signature dish. Daly envisions the cream cheese will play a key role in a specialty sandwich — a poppy seed bagel, spread with Chicago cream cheese and topped with Taylor ham, a New Jersey specialty also known as pork roll.

The “Vampire Killer” will feature a garlic cream cheese on a garlic and herb bagel and topped with wilted lemon-garlic spinach and red onion, while the “Sweet Tart” will feature your choice of bagel topped with a goat cheese spread, fresh apples and honey. The sandwich menu will also feature smoked salmon and a Whitefish spread from Soft Wave Fish Co. located in Lake in the Hills.

“When we have an opening date we will announce it on social media;” said Daly. “The waiting has been hard for all of us, but we can see the finish line now.”

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