For anyone in the baking business, a name like Rise is an appropriate nod to the bread-making process. But for Jen and Kate Lloyd (left to right), the sister duo behind the fledgling Rise Bagel Co., the name could also allude to the early wake-up time required for them to bake and sell their bagels at the weekly Fulton Farmers Market.
“We’re in the kitchen Friday nights mixing and rolling bagels until 10pm. We come back at 2:30am and fire up the ovens and start baking,” Jen says.
The sacrifice of precious sleep, however, seems to be worth it, as word of the Lloyd sisters’ bagels spreads through the metro area. Case in point: the crowds last Saturday waiting for bags of bagels or cream-cheese-schmeared sandwiches for a market breakfast.
“We’ve been blessed with a lot of nice PR and a lot of people — really the Fulton community — embracing us and letting us know how excited they are that we’re there. It’s been pretty tremendous,” Jen says.
Though Rise Bagel Co. is a newcomer to the market, the Lloyds’ quest for a superior bagel goes back many years. Long-time bagel lovers and home bakers, the sisters sought out specimens across their travels but were never quite satisfied with the selection available locally. So, like many food entrepreneurs, they took advantage of the hole (pun very much intended) in the market and started making their own.
“About a year and half ago we came together and thought we’d try [making our own bagels]. We started getting together on the weekends and trying recipes,” Kate says.
Inspired by the renowned bagels of New York and Montreal, Jen and Kate borrowed techniques from each city’s traditions to craft a modestly sized bagel that’s light, chewy, and filling, but not excessively so. The bagels, which they bake at City Food Studio in South Minneapolis, are shaped by hand, boiled, and baked on wooden boards. Savvy customers will notice that the sisters coat both sides of the bagel with toppings, Montreal-style, so every bite explodes with flavor.
Varieties lean toward the savory, with nine typically offered each week. Bagel fans will often find plain, poppy seed, sesame, everything, salt, cinnamon raisin, jalapeno cheddar, and rosemary olive oil — which has become a market favorite. Using Jen’s home as a test kitchen, the duo constantly experiments with new flavors, bringing what they learn to the commercial kitchen at City Food Studio, and getting feedback from customers — and the lucky co-workers who serve as miniature focus groups.
“One of the main takeaways has been that people really like the size. Everyone responded that they thought other bagels were too big,” Kate says.
“It’s a fun new challenge going from your grandma’s KitchenAid mixer to a 40-gallon commercial mixer,” Jen says. “Every week there’s something we have to think about or modify or tweak a little. It’s been a challenge, but we’re getting better each week.”
Committed to the Fulton Farmers Market as it continues through October, the Lloyds are still weighing their options for the off-season. Both will continue with their day jobs — Jen works in product sourcing for Nordic Ware, while Kate does public relations for Room & Board — while they develop a strategy.
“There might be an opportunity to sell at City Food Studio. Maybe winter markets. Maybe a pop-up shop once a month. We’re trying to figure it out,” Kate says. “We both like our [day] jobs. Transitioning into having a bagel shop would be a huge adjustment, so we have to figure out if that’s something we’d want to do. We’d like to do more markets next summer.”
“We’d be very disappointed if we weren’t [at the market] next summer,” Jen adds.
Rise Bagel Co. can be found at the Fulton Farmers Market, 4901 Chowen Ave. S., Minneapolis, most Saturdays through October. Bagels are $1.50 each ($3 with cream cheese or nut butter), $8.50 for a half dozen, and $16.50 for a dozen.