Jeff: The backstory is that I made bagels for myself when I first moved to San Francisco in 1994. I grew up in Ohio where bagels and pizza were staples in my diet. When I moved here it was hard for me to find bagels that met my standards so I started making them at home. After living here awhile I found a few places I liked, so I stopped making them.
During that time I had this idea that I wanted to open a pizza and bagel place. The concept was I’d name it OHIO and one O would be a pizza and the other would be a bagel. I’ve always wondered why pizzerias and bagel shops don’t inhabit the same space. It seems like such a natural partnership to me.
Jeff: I’ve always wanted to get bagels going at Pizza Hacker. In the beginning, it was enough just keeping the wheels of the pizzeria on. There are so many other things to think about when you open a restaurant. Then, Roger started working here. Eventually, we talked about the idea. He’s a great chef and baker but more importantly, he’s a really productive guy. I’m always amazed how much he can do in a day. He was up for it so we decided to test it out on Sunday mornings.
I worked out the marketing and Roger worked on the baking. He’s in sync with how I do things. The DNA of how we make bagels is similar to how we make pizza dough, even if the ingredients are different.
Jeff: Roger has come up with some really unique flavors. One of them is Raisin Ras el Hanout. It’s a spicy raisin bagel. The Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that can have anywhere between 12-30 different spices in it. Every shop or chef can make their blend slightly differently.
Overall, Roger’s creativity of unique bagel flavors mixed with the traditional bagels people want has worked well.
My contribution to the menu is the Big Macher and the Lil Pisher. Those are a play on Yiddish words from my childhood. I’ve been surprised that more people in San Francisco aren’t familiar with Yiddish, but so be it. The Big Macher is an English – Yiddish term that means hot shot – or someone showing off in some way. Hence, the name the Bagel Macher.
It’s basically the traditional spread; lox, cream cheese, cucumber, red onion and capers with jam smeared over it. It was my favorite when I was a kid. Most people have been positively surprised.
The Lil Pisher is a phrase used to describe something as inconsequential — so it comes without the jam. I’m making fun of the person who’s making fun of the jelly.
It all comes together in the name of the pop-up, which is the Bagel Macher.
Jeff: Right now we start serving freshly baked bagels on Sundays at 10:30 am until we sell out. That’s usually around 1 pm. We make between 200-250. We also served drip coffee, juice and grapefruit mimosas. I’m thinking about adding Saturdays, but honestly, we need to find more staff to work the weekend brunch time. That’s been one of the biggest challenges. I’m so grateful to all the people who have pitched in to help us do this. We want to get Sundays dialed in so our customers have a great experience before we add another day.
You can find the Pizza Hacker at:
3299 Mission Street, San Francisco, (415) 874-5585
Yelp: The Pizza Hacker
Jen Baxter is a San Francisco based writer, photographer and content creator. Her goal is to empower business owners to tell their story in a compelling and personal way. You can check out more articles at JenBaxter.com or follow along on Instagram @JenBaxterSF.