Black Seed Bagels has been open at 214 Berry St. for just 11 days, but it’s already well on its way to becoming a neighborhood staple. With its simplified menu and quality ingredients, the store has experienced almost daily lines before the doors even open. And for that, co-owner Noah Bernamoff is grateful.
“When you open a new store, you never know exactly how it’s all going to go and hope for the best, and thankfully Williamsburg has been such a great neighborhood, but I don’t know if we could have predicted how much demand there was going to be, so we’re blown away by the reception, frankly,” Bernamoff said. “I was surprised by how early people showed up. [During the pandemic] we shrunk our hours to 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., which has been generally fine for a handful of our locations, but we came out of the gate in Williamsburg and we’ve seen so much traffic early in the day.”
The store features glass windows showcasing freshly baked bagels (which are made throughout the day, not just in the morning), stools and counters for the lucky few who get there early enough to claim them, retail items like branded tote bags and tumblers, and the first sidewalk pick-up window in Black Seed history. The new location was designed with efficiency in mind to do what they do best — make a good bagel.
“We’ve tried to build the facility to be as fast as possible. We recognize that one of the areas where we’ve not always been so successful is [speed] going from ordering to delivery of food, so it’s an element we tried to design the store around,” Bernamoff reflected.
In terms of the menu, the Black Seed Bagels team (including co-owner Matt Kliegman and James Beard award-nominated executive chef Dianna Daoheung) keeps it simple with only ten bagel and seven cream cheese varieties, though their bagels also serve as the foundation for classic breakfast sandwiches, pizza bagels, and other signature sandwiches like a reuben and AB&J (almond butter and jam). And while it may not resemble most other Brooklyn bagel shops with a cream cheese display that seems to span an entire football field, the quality and freshness evident in the everything bagel with veggie cream cheese that I ate had me contemplating a permanent shift from my typical egg-bagel-with-sundried-tomato-cream-cheese order.
As the shop continues to settle into the neighborhood, customers can expect to see expanded hours and potential new bagel or cream cheese varieties incorporating seasonal ingredients.
“We’ve rolled out some new bagel flavors in the last few months, starting with cinnamon raisin, which I never thought I’d see the day, but we may be stubborn, but we’re not obstinate; the people have spoken and we’re responding with their cinnamon raisin bagel,” Bernamoff mused. “We’re looking forward to loosening up the menu a little bit.”
In the future, Bernamoff would also love to do more things uniquely tailored to the Williamsburg market, but right now the team is primarily interested in making customers happy with the consistency that’s become synonymous with Black Seed.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said. “Our focus is just making sure that we’re doing the things that are at the core of our operation well and consistently; our trajectory is just as focused on creating excitement as we are creating consistency.”