Welcome to DC, Pearl’s Bagels!

by Judith Rontal / September 5, 2018

Jews and bagels go together like peanut butter and jelly. Also, like PB&J, bagels and schmear are always quickly and completely devoured with only some crumbs, and sticky fingers, remaining.

While people have strong opinions about peanut butter (crunchy vs. creamy, natural vs. Skippy, and of course all the alternative nuts out there), ask a Jew about their ideal bagel and you will receive a passionate explanation of why their bagel is the one to rule them all. And we haven’t even entered the world of cream cheese vs. any other schmear…

Living in DC, our choices of bagels are quite limited. Taking the train to New York isn’t something one can do every weekend. Because of this, our freezers get stocked with bagels from those rare NYC trips and the few places that sell acceptable bagels get swarmed on weekends. Recognizing the bagel desert of DC, these two bagel lovers decided to quit their corporate jobs to start a bagel business.

Pearl’s Bagels, named after the owners’ beloved French Bulldog Pearl, is the newest bagel joint on the block and is already making the rounds in the food scene.

dc bagels at pearl's

Photo by Judith Rontal

How did Pearl’s Bagels get its start?

Husband-and-wife team Allee and Oliver Cox were raised to be bagel lovers. Oliver loved his hometown bagels so much that he thanked them for getting him through school in his high school graduation speech. In fact, Allee and Oliver’s shared affinity for bagels brought them together for the first time. While they were both working at a TV station in Nantucket, the two picked up some bagels together after an early shoot was cancelled. By the end of the day, they ended up sharing more than just a bagel.

Fast forward a few years and a move to DC, Allee and Oliver found themselves working corporate jobs during the week and baking bagels on the weekends to satisfy their cravings. After getting married, the two decided to quit their jobs and backpack through Asia. That big decision pushed them to take the leap to open up a bagel shop of their own once they returned back home. Enter Pearl’s Bagels.

dc bagels at pearl's

Photo by Judith Rontal

What makes these bagels special?

The bagels are a hybrid Montreal- and New York-style bagels with a chewy inside and a crispy exterior. They use only six ingredients (plus additional seasonings for the flavored varieties): flour, water, salt, yeast, honey, and malt powder. The bagels are delicious on their own, no schmear necessary. The Everything Bagel has the spices on both top and bottom, and can also be piled high with your favorite toppings.

After Allee and Oliver committed to this venture, they took an intensive class to learn about starting a bakery. They tested tons of recipes on themselves and community members. They want to bake the bagels they love, and be able to guarantee those bagels are the ones that DC will love too.

How does one get these bagels?

While the duo is still baking out of their rowhouse, they are in the process of finalizing details to open up a spot in the southern Shaw/Mount Vernon Triangle area by this time next year. In the meantime, they will begin taking catering orders at the end of October so you can host your own bagel-themed Shabbat or just stock up on these bagels for yourself.

With bagels being such a staple in our diets, Pearl’s Bagels is a welcome addition to the DC food scene. I for one am very excited to watch Allee and Oliver bake their way into the hearts and stomachs of DC.

dc bagels at pearl's

Photo by Vanessa Mack


About the Author: Judith Rontal hails from wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she grew up in a family that always managed to eat dinner together, and regularly snuck bites from each other’s plates. She’s continued that connection between food, family and culture in her life in DC where she works in PR, focusing on media relations for several local restaurants. When not in the kitchen putting together a feast for her next dinner party or finding a new way to use food scraps (kimchi watermelon rind anyone?), you can find Judith sweating it out at yoga or running the District’s streets. Follow her food adventures on Instagram and Twitter.



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