Nothing like a New York bagel

Bagel Town Cafe has the recipe perfected

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  • Photos by Ginny Raue Owner Paul Schreiber shows some of his hot-out-of-the-oven bagels at Bagel Town.

  • Bagel Town Cafe, Bearfort Shopping Village, Union Valley Road, West Milford.

  • You can almost taste this golden onion bagel. Pass the cream cheese, please.

  • Bagel Town Cafe owner, Paul Schreiber, on left and Bagel Town worker, Trevor Simon, are ready to serve their customers with a smile.

  • There's a huge choice of bagel spreads available.


New York style water bagels are hard to beat. Hand rolled, boiled and then baked, they come out of the oven tender on the inside with a golden, hard shell. “This is the original recipe for New York bagels, made this way since 1950,” Bagel Town Café owner Paul Schreiber said.

Bagel Town Café
1614 Union Valley Road – Bearfort Shopping Village
West Milford, NJ 07480
Business hours: Monday through Friday 5:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Popular around the world, the American bagel industry had its beginning around 1907 with the establishment of the 300 member International Bakers Union. At that time only the sons of union members were entrusted with the secrets of bagel making.

A few bagel bites
1610- Although it is reported that bagels appear in Egyptian hieroglyphics, the earliest written mention of a bagel dates back to Krakow, Poland. Community regulations stipulated that “beygals” should be given as a gift to pregnant women or to women in labor.
1683 – One bagel origination theory is that an Austrian baker created a “beugal” (meaning stirrup) to give to the King of Poland in honor of his aid to Austria and marking his expertise in horsemanship. This theory is disputed by some food historians.
1880s – Eastern European Jews bring their love of bagels to America. Threading the bagels on wooden dowels, the vendors hawked their wares on New York City streets.
1927 – Polish baker Harry Lender opened the first mass producing bagel plant in New Haven, Conn., and the popularity of the bagel spread across the United States.
1951- Broadway comedy “Bagel and Yox” popularized the word bagel. During intermission, the audience sampled free bagels and cream cheese.
1989 - Kosher bagels were brought from New York to Japan. Green tea, chocolate and maple-nut flavors were created for this market.
2008 - American NASA astronaut, Canadian-born Gregory Chamitoff, brings 18 sesame seed Montreal-style bagels to the International Space Station.
Early prototypes of cream cheese were recorded in England in 1583. By the mid- 18th century, recipes for making cream cheese appeared in cook books. Philadelphia Cream Cheese has been around since 1880.

While being a member of a bagel bakers union is no longer a prerequisite, Schreiber did train at a bagel shop in Ringwood. He added to that his food service experience and his degree in hotel and restaurant management and opened his store in 2005 in the Bearfort Shopping Village.

Turn up the heat
While most people are just turning over in bed or plumping their pillows, the lights come on at Bagel Town Café. One of Schreiber’s seven employees, the baker, starts the bagel-making process at 3:30 a.m. by preparing the dough. The 9x12 foot, five shelf oven is fired up and the giant water kettle is readied. After the dough is shaped around the hand to produce the characteristic hole, the bagels are allowed to rise and are then refrigerated until the boiling and baking procedures begin.

By the time the earliest of the early-bird customers walks into the shop at 5:45 a.m., there are 12 different bagel selections ready for the choosing.

Bagels and more
Schreiber puts in about 60-70 hours a week at his store. On a typical weekday, 300 to 500 bagels will be sold, and that count goes up to between 800 and 1,500 bagels on the weekends.

“But don’t let that fool you; we are a lot more than a bagel store,” he said.

That certainly seems to be the case. There’s a huge variety of bagel spreads available including sun dried tomato, jalapeno cheddar, walnut raisin, buffalo, strawberry, vegetable, scallion and olive cream cheeses.

Also available are Boar’s Head cold cuts, wraps, rolls, a large variety of sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, hot dogs, French fries and buffalo wings. Each day a homemade soup, carefully prepared by Schreiber’s mother, Phyllis, is on the menu.

Bagel lovers

Out and about while the sun is still low, long-range commuters, township employees, police officers, teachers and construction workers are often in early, looking for that fresh cup of coffee and warm bagel to go. Others, with more time on their hands, can take a seat indoors, or outdoors in the nice weather.

Schreiber’s personal favorite is a poppy seed bagel with cream cheese, sometimes with lox.

He enjoys living and working in West Milford, citing the beautiful scenery of the township and the congeniality of his customers.

Judging from the amount of bagels he sells each day and his parade of regular customers, he appears to be on the right track. He’s proud of his business and doesn’t hold back on assessing the quality of his product.

“I’ve got the best bagels in the area,” he said.

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