Portland's Union Bagel to expand to East Deering

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PORTLAND — Five years after its launch, Union Bagel Co. is readying a second location in the city.

Owner Paul Farrell this week said he wouldn’t be in a position to open another shop, at 46 Veranda St. in East Deering, without the support and encouragement of many people, particularly his customers.

Farrell opened Union Bagel in the basement of the Portland Public Market in 2012, as a wholesale bakery. It moved to 147 Cumberland Ave. in 2013, and has since added retail sales to the general public.

“We’re opening a second location primarily to accommodate growing demand from wholesale customers,” Farrell said. “The shop on Cumberland Avenue is too small to handle that and our increased retail business.”

Farrell said the Veranda Street shop, near Washington Avenue, would be “very similar” to the Cumberland Avenue operation and the hope is that it will be open by late August.

“There won’t be room for seats, so it will be grab and go. The menu will be the same to start, but as things settle we plan to expand it a bit at both locations to include more sandwich items and bagel varieties.”

In addition, Farrell said, “We’re looking to expand our hours and have an additional menu for evenings. We also plan on having (seasonal) outdoor seating.”

Along with providing much-needed additional room for bagel making, he said another advantage of the new location on Veranda Street is a large parking lot.

“The location is ideal for a number of reasons,” Farrell said. “It’s a corner lot with a good amount of parking in a lively and supportive neighborhood with a number of local businesses, solid, long-term residents, and a lot of local foot and vehicle traffic.”

“There’s also a bus stop right in front of us (and) we’re in a great spot to pull over and grab something quickly. With some picnic tables (available) for good weather, we’ll be a great spot to come and sit for a bit and just watch the world go by.”

Union Bagel sets itself apart in a couple ways, according to Farrell.

One is that the bagels are all made with “simple, quality ingredients. The most important of which is organic flour.” He also said, “each batch is (still) hand rolled, boiled and baked on a stone hearth in the traditional style.”

“Our mission has always been twofold: to bring the best traditional bagels to Portland and run a successful enterprise that is both supportive of and dependent upon (the) regional economy,” Farrell said.

Another difference, he said, is, “We do one thing – bagels. The result is full flavor and rich texture.”

“There are a lot of great bakeries in Portland, many within a one-mile radius of (us), but their primary focus isn’t on one particular item or product,” Farrell said.

He said he has two favorite items on his menu: “The bialy, which we do only on weekends, and sesame. On those, it’s egg and cheese loaded or jalapeno cream cheese.”

“A bialy is similar to a bagel, but it’s not boiled and has caramelized onion, sea salt and poppy seeds baked into the center,” Farrell said. “The combination of that with an egg and cheese feels slightly sinful and just hits the spot.”

While he’s excited about the new venture on Veranda Street, Farrell admitted there have been some tough times.

But, he said, “my wife has been a huge force in helping achieve and maintain my goals. It was her encouragement to really explore the Veranda Street location that led me there, and she kept me going through some of the darker moments that one experiences when entering the unknown.”

Farrell said that his success so far has not been a one-man effort.

“From the beginning I’ve had an enormous amount of help from family, friends and people who like what Union Bagel is about. Second, I’ve had a lot of help from the (the Small Business Administration, Coastal Enterprises and the city’s Office of Economic Development).”

“All have been fantastic,” he said. “Always ready to help, advise and navigate the many challenges of growing a small business. They are dedicated and patient people who have really helped and encouraged Union Bagel’s growth.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Traditionally baked bagels at Union Bagel in Portland.

Paul Farrell, owner of Union Bagel in Portland, making bialys. The bakery has become so successful it’s opening a second location, at 46 Veranda St. in East Deering later this summer.