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Dan as a kid

When I moved from New York City to London in the summer of 2019, my wife and I were about to have our second kid. We had boxes to unpack, a new home and city to settle into, a young daughter for whom to create meaningful routines and spontaneous fun. It all moved forward at the speed of the light. I didn’t have time to miss our life in Brooklyn—until the whole world stopped.

The stillness of the pandemic, as for many, meant time in my feelings and time in the kitchen. The two categories usually overlap, but in the spring of 2020, they mingled and magnified even more. Frankly, I needed comfort through food; I needed the kinds of bagels I lived on in New York.

Besides being uniquely delicious, New York bagels are my personal entry point into understanding how food connects people and forms community. When I was fifteen, I started working at the Bagel Emporium near my childhood home in the NYC suburbs. Back then, I had few conscious thoughts about the deeper meaning of food, but my experience working behind the counter made an instant impact. I found it entirely gratifying feeding my friends and, through food, making new ones.

Standing alone in my London kitchen, I decided to act on my cravings. I began ordering bagel-baking ingredients online and after baking a few small test batches, it was very clear that the product I desired needed greater infrastructure: an industrial oven, a case full of lox.

For the last twenty years, I’ve made my living as a photographer. I’ve had a million conversations about opening restaurants, but the urge to create a bagel business felt different, motivated by necessity not by dreams alone. What I lacked in experience, I made up for in effort. As a devoted home cook, I know how to dive in and obsess. So, I pulled back on sleep and started figuring out what an It’s Bagel could be: the rise and size, the chew to crunch ratio, the topping density, the roll, the boil, the bake. I spoke with bagel-baking masters back in New York. I talked out bagel theory and practice with chefs. I analyzed all of it by text message with my devoted, global, bagel-loving group of pals.

After rigorously testing recipes and feeding those closest to me, It’s took the next step with the help of our friends at Caravan Coffee Roasters. In June 2022, we popped-up there to sell the first It’s Bagels batches while also running a weekend bagel delivery service. Our first brick and mortar, It’s Bagels Primrose Hill, opened at 65 Regent’s Park Road in September 2023 to long, hungry queues that remain today.

It turns out, London needs a New York City bagel just as much as I do.