Words by Sunny Zaman; Photos by Maria Posato and Olivia Bauso
Inside the bodega-sized quarters of Bagel Land on Monroe Avenue, the warm, sweet scent of fresh dough hangs in the air after a long morning of preparation for a full day’s work.
Bagel Land opens for the day at 7 a.m., but baking for wholesale local schools, businesses and restaurants begins around 2 a.m. The shop’s biggest queue happens between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. — a line full of first responders, snow plow drivers, municipal construction workers, and other miscellaneous commuters — curving out onto Twelve Corners Plaza in Brighton.
Several 25-cent candy machines line the right wall, like a pastiche to millennial childhood. Flanking the machines are local newspapers (CITY, Democrat & Chronicle ) and international papers (The New York Times, which typically goes quick, and The Wall Street Journal).
In 1976, Bob “Bagel” Juliano bought the original Bagel Land location in Irondequoit after working there for a year. After other locations in Webster, Perinton, Greece, and Brighton ultimately closed, Juliano's Bagel Land in Twelve Corners emerged as the sole brick-and-mortar shop in the late 1980s. It became a family affair run by Bob, his son Joe, and his daughter Robyn, who took on managerial duties. Robyn’s husband and son, Jack and Ian Schaefer, later joined the crew.
The selection of bagels offered depends on the day. The shop typically carries 22 varieties (23 on Sundays — adding an extra novelty choice), as well as 23 varieties of cream cheese (including lite versions) from Lighthouse Cream Cheese in Ontario, New York.
An unintentional vegetarian’s haven, Bagel Land offers sandwiches sans meat (or eggs, for that matter). Bagel sandwiches are available with butter spread, cream cheese, or peanut butter and jelly. Pizza and hot dog bagels (featuring Zweigle’s, of course) also appear on the menu. Bialys (Polish rolls with depressed middles instead of holes) are available, as well as their signature Fire Salt bagels (a shop exclusive that includes ground habanero, cayenne pepper and sea salt, among other zesty ingredients). Livingston County’s Evening Star Coffee provides three flavors daily.
The shop provides an NYC-style, in-and-out experience — there is no seating. Wrapped in wax paper and popped into a classic brown paper bag, my wild berry cream cheese on a cinnamon raisin bagel is handed to me on my way out, reminiscent of bagel shops I frequented mid-commute in Greenwich Village.
Since Bagel Land is open seven days a week, until 6 p.m. (except for Sundays, when it closes at 3 p.m.), morning stars and night owls alike have ample opportunity to visit the charming shop.