Bagels have been on the menu at Lincoln Sq.’s Baker Miller since veterans Dave and Megan Miller opened the bakery a decade in the past. Their recognition soared a lot that the Millers created a separate Miller Bagel Instagram handle in 2015 to order the identify, simply in case they determined to someday open a deli.
“We by no means actually had the prospect,” David Miller says. “We all the time thought it might be a unique location or totally different idea.”
With their lease up for renewal in February in Lincoln Sq. and extra uncertainty with rising COVID instances, and rising inflation the Millers determined, now was the time to strive one thing new. Baker Miller relaunched as Miller Bagel on Saturday, January 7.
“With Baker Miller, the meals was good, however we had been on autopilot slightly bit,” Miller says. “Now we’re capable of be slightly extra inventive and have slightly extra freedom. Due to that, a number of the flavors are extra thrilling, so we’re getting actually good suggestions on it.”
Whereas a lot of the authentic idea’s Midwestern menu has been scrapped (Miller Bagel isn’t a New York bagel store), diners will nonetheless discover favorites like doughboys and pastrami, with cinnamon rolls supplied on weekends. The brand new menu options staples like a tuna soften whereas additionally incorporating the Millers’ love of Asian flavors. A sushi-inspired Philly Roll combines smoked salmon, cucumber, cream cheese, nori, soy sauce, and furikake whereas the Joni incorporates gochujang cream cheese, bacon, and pickled carrots. Extra vegan and gluten-free choices are within the works.
“What we’re doing is type of hitting the essential mark of what you’d anticipate at a deli, however then we have now this complete aspect of our menu that’s us simply having enjoyable,” Miller says.
A deli case has been added to the house exhibiting off their collection of salads, soups and bagels, that are additionally supplied by the dozen. A walk-up window has proved very fashionable, however Miller would love extra folks to really are available and dine. The restaurant didn’t take on-line orders over the weekend with a view to keep away from being overwhelmed, however they’ll be bringing the choice again on Wednesday or Thursday.
“We’ll be making an attempt to determine the right way to create extra experiences,” he says. “A to-go enterprise is ok, however when you’ve got an empty eating room, it’s simply not as good.”
The restaurant can be planning common collaborations with a number of the many meals companies which have launched as pop-ups because the pandemic together with Umamicue and Milky Milky. Earnings from the month-to-month visitor bagel will profit a charity of the chef’s alternative.
“I have already got an inventory of fifty folks to do collaborations with,” says Miller, a co-founder of Bang Bang Pie Shop. “All of that was spurred on by COVID and realizing that we have to have a enterprise that’s slightly bit extra with the instances.”
Bagels had been additionally served on the now-shuttered store Baker Miller operated close to the Francisco Brown Line cease, however the Miller Bagel idea first actually examined as a cloud kitchen throughout Chicago’s COVID lockdown. A streamlined menu helped the enterprise maintain down prices, which is particularly vital through the present inflationary interval.
“Whereas clients have been experiencing 8-percent to 10-percent inflation, eating places are experiencing it so much larger,” Miller says. “We are able to’t increase our costs 20 to 25 p.c so loads of us are shouldering it by letting it eat into our margins, which implies we’re all personally working extra and personally struggling.”
The Millers have to resolve whether or not or to not renew their present lease for an additional 5 years by February 1. If the idea isn’t profitable, they’ll transfer to a extra inexpensive spot in Lincoln Sq..
“There’s a lot of tiny little vacancies throughout the town proper now, and landlords are begging for folks to come back take them,” Miller says.
If gross sales stay robust, they’ll keep put and probably have a look at increasing the Miller Bagel idea to meals halls and different places all through the town.
“Bagel retailers have a extremely nice economic system of scale for those who do it proper,” Miller says. “I’ve accomplished loads of consulting for different bagel manufacturers, so it’s one thing I’ve realized fairly properly. We’re like, ‘why are we all the time doing this for everyone else? Why don’t we determine how to do that for ourselves?’”
Miller Bagel, 4655 N. Lincoln Avenue, (773) 923-3067, open 8 a.m. to three p.m. on Wednesday to Friday; 9 a.m. to three p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.