Date: May 1, 2023 | Story: Virginia Brown | Photography: Rett Peek | Producer: Stephanie Maxwell Newton |
Little Rock’s The Bagel Shop moves from pop-up operation to SoMa storefront this summer
Inside a historic building in downtown Little Rock’s South Main Street district, paint peels off the exposed brick walls, and the vaulted ceilings echo with the surrounding buzz of construction. This summer, the one-time laundry facility at 1501 S. Main St. will take new form as the first stationary location of The Bagel Shop—Myles Roberson and Trevor Papsadora’s popular bagel pop-up.
In 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the pair moved from Portland, Maine, where they met and lived for roughly 10 years, back to Little Rock—Myles’s hometown. But, for Trevor, something was missing. Unlike in the Northeast, where he could find a good bagel on any corner, he had a hard time getting his fix in Little Rock. “In Maine, and in the Northeast in general, getting a bagel is like getting a taco in the South,” he says. “Bagels are a part of a daily routine for so many people. They’re small and travel well; they fit in your bag to eat when you arrive at your destination. When I first got here I was like, ‘Um, where’s the bagels at?’”
One night, while Myles was still at work, Trevor tried his hand at making his own. “I made the first batch, and there was something about the whole process that just felt so natural to me,” he says. “I called Myles to tell him how excited I was, and he was so encouraging and said, ‘If you enjoy the process, make another batch!’” Trevor took the resulting dozen or so to work the next morning for his colleagues to taste test, and they shared his enthusiasm. “The response was so supportive,” he says.
In July 2022, the two began selling hand-rolled bagels from a pop-up location in Bernice Garden. Soon that model snowballed, taking them into boutiques and storefronts all across the city, where long lines for hot bagels formed despite intense summer heat. To fully commit to the project, Trevor quit his job and, within a month, Myles followed suit. “We’d always wanted to have a restaurant of our own, and we just kind of stumbled into bagels,” Trevor says. “It was overwhelming in the best way,” Myles adds.
Some of their success can be attributed to The Bagel Shop’s fun, colorful approach to Instagram (@thebagel.shop), which has garnered them more than 5,000 followers. “I took a fashion and home décor approach to how we styled all of our photos,” says Trevor, whose past work includes selling vintage wares and performing as a drag queen. “I tried to make it feel like a cookbook. People really responded.”
In its current operation from a commissary kitchen, The Bagel Shop is limited to production of about 500 bagels daily, sold through pre-orders and picked up from their future shop’s parking lot. The brick-and-mortar location will allow for increased production of between 1,500 and 2,000 bagels daily, according to Trevor. It will also offer seating for roughly 50 people with morning and early afternoon hours Thursday through Monday. “We are creating a quick place to stop in and get breakfast and go,” Myles says.
The menu will feature a full deli with fresh bagels, schmears, and smoked fish in the morning and hot bagel sandwiches for lunch, plus soups, salads, and other breads. In March, the two announced a partnership with Monica Chatterton, owner of Flake Baby Pastry, to create a pastry program. “Bagels are the vehicle, but there’s so much that we get excited thinking about and doing, like having our own pop-ups at night in the restaurant and inviting other chefs into the space,” Trevor says. “And we’re going to have a slushie machine, which I’m very excited about.”
“A big part of our aesthetic and idea towards food is always having that nostalgia and throwback to things we really loved and enjoyed growing up,” Myles adds. “It feels like Little Rock is on the verge of a shift into the restaurant scenes that you see elsewhere. We felt like it was a good time to make the leap and really go for it.” Here, Trevor and Myles share the recipe for an Herby Smoked Trout Dip using cream cheese from their shop. Visit thebagel.shop for information on pre-orders, pop-ups, and The Bagel Shop’s official opening date.
Once officially open, The Bagel Shop’s menu will feature a mix of staple and seasonal offerings. For example, cheese options will rotate between parmesan, Asiago, and cheddar, a favorite of Myles’s. Trevor’s personal fave, on the other hand, is their rosemary-and-salt variety with smoked trout cream cheese. “It’s a flavor bomb of herbs and lemon,” he says.
Myles (left) and Trevor amid a tableaux of bagels at the still-under-construction location of The Bagel Shop on South Main Street.
Myles Roberson & Trevor Papsadora, owners
The Bagel Shop, a local specialty bakery
1501 S. Main St.,
Opening this summer! Follow along on Instagram (@thebagel.shop) for an official opening date announcement.
Herby Smoked Trout Dip
1 8-ounce package smoked trout cream cheese from The Bagel Shop
3 tablespoons crème fraiche (or substitute sour cream)
2 tablespoons Duke’s Mayo
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dill, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil, for garnish
flakey sea salt, for garnish
Remove smoked trout cream cheese from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, crème fraiche, mayonnaise, prepared horseradish, and lemon juice. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix on low speed; increase speed to medium high until mixture is fully combined, about 2-4 minutes. (Consistency should be light, fluffy, and easy to drag a cracker through. Time will vary based on the temperature of dairy ingredients, so watch closely while mixing.)
Using a rubber spatula, fold in parsley and dill, reserving some for garnish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with parsley and dill, a drizzle of olive oil, and flakey sea salt. Serve with bagel chips from The Bagel Shop or your favorite raw vegetables.
The Bagel Shop’s Herby Smoked Trout Dip is best enjoyed within 48 hours and will keep refrigerated in an airtight container to the date listed on the original cream cheese packaging.