The bagel scene on both sides of Center City is going to get a hole lot better.
I call your attention to Knead Bagels - a newcomer now under construction at 725 Walnut St. - and Chestnut Street Philly Bagels - a veteran whose lease signing is said to be imminent at 1705 Chestnut St.
Knead will fill the Washington Square storefront previously occupied by Philly's Cafe and Tuscany Cafe in late September.
Chef Adam Willner, working with his wife, Cheri, will offer what he calls "a modern interpretation of the traditional bagel shop."
That is, as he uses old-school production techniques (boiling them), he'll also play with flavor combinations.
Willner got into bagel-making while planning the brunch menu at Matyson a few years ago. (He took over Matyson's kitchen after Ben Puchowitz left to open Cheu Noodle Bar. His resume also includes Sidecar Bar, Jones and the Continental.)
In addition to classic bagel flavors, Willner will offer original varieties, as well as original spreads meant to pair with them.
(I was curious, so the Willners sent over bagels spiced with togarashi (a Japanese chili pepper), whose zing was tempered by a scallion lime cream cheese. They also sent over Moroccan-spiced apricot, which paired beautifully with a tangy lemon goat cheese. Big thumbs-up from my colleagues. It's important to mention that his plain and "everything" bagels were delicious.)
Knead will serve Elixr coffee and will have a full lunch menu of items made from scratch.
Chestnut Street Philly Bagels, which is expected to fill the former Tokyo Lunch Box across from the former Daffy's store, is a new location of the popular South Street Philly Bagels at 613 S. Third St.
Aaron Wagner, whose family of New York emigres also owns the Bagel Spot in Cherry Hill, said he had been looking for three years for space on that side of town.
This shop, he explained, will be his own. He plans to make the dough on Third Street and bake off the bagels and sell them fresh on Chestnut.
The new shop's menu - including sandwiches and smoked fish - will be the same as Third Street's.
He's targeting the end of November for opening.