Lakeside Bagel and Deli celebrates 25 years

Category:  News
Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 at 10:52 AM
Lakeside Bagel and Deli celebrates 25 years by Thomas Taylor
Photo: Kimberly Firestine

“That bagel shop hasn’t missed a beat since ’95.”
— Kathy McMaster, original owner of Lakeside Bagel and Deli. 

Entering Lakeside Bagel and Deli, you’d be right to lose your geographic bearings. Freshly boiled and baked out of a kettle, the smell of bagels mix with the seasoning, creating a perfect combination. A firm bagel exterior is paired with the crispness of biting in, a crunch as sharp as a fall day near Mallory Lake. The inside is nice — not too soft but just right. Paired with a good coffee and cream cheese, this can make the day of any resident. 

Simply put, it’s the quintessential and famed New York bagel, no longer city bound. And according to current co-owner Deanna Arnt, travelers from all around, from New York and New Jersey, to even Canada, come to get a taste of this now Edinboro institution.

Lakeside Bagel & Deli has been around for 25 years, but there’s still something that draws customers in. “There’s just an ambiance about sitting in there, or [that’s] going on there,” said Kathy McMaster, the original owner of the Edinboro staple.

Deanna and Tony Arnt are the current owners of the “Bagel Shop” and have been for 17 years. They took over with each specializing in different areas. “He had a background in working in a pizza shop, so he was very familiar with the dough. And I was the director of a program in Erie, so I was good with scheduling. So, I decided it would be a good opportunity for us,” explained Arnt (all quotes are from Deanna in this piece). 

Throughout the years, they had challenges to overcome and changes to make, including to the menu. Arnt recalls the bagels in perfect memory. “When we first purchased the place, we only had nine types of bagels; now there’s 20 different kinds.” 

Through all of this, the community has heavily supported them. “We’ve been very lucky with the community support, and each year we’ve grown. That doesn’t always happen with mom-and-pop shops, so we’re very grateful for that,” she said. 

The Beginnings 

Kathy McMaster and her ex-husband Chris McMaster opened Lakeside Bagel & Deli in 1995, but the story of how the shop was founded goes back a year prior. “At the time, [we] were in Buffalo, and we went to a Bagel Brothers bagel shop, and we got the idea from there,” she explained. “We thought, ‘if they could do it, then why couldn’t we?’” 

At the time, there was only one other bagel shop in Erie, which had recently opened. They began to develop their business, soon looking for a location. This took a turn, as McMaster said, when they found their shop’s lakeside, Route 6N location, which at the time was a car dealership and garage. “A friend of ours wanted to buy the building; it was empty. So, he bought the building, and the [three of us] started renovations.” 

She looked beyond Edinboro for inspiration, traveling up north to New York and New England. She would always visit delis in these places, searching for ideas. This culinary journey eventually took her to the epicenter of good bagels: New York City. “I would just be walking down a block in New York, and I just remember them being in little alleys,” she recalled. “They were little Jewish delis, the real deal.” 

McMaster had to fully explain to the shop owners why she was there. “When I would go in to talk to them, I had to explain I was opening a bagel shop, but in Pennsylvania, and I wouldn’t be competing with them.” McMaster wanted the shop to be accurate to the true New York-style bagel, and would visit several delis in New York, and one in Keene, New Hampshire. 

The town of Burlington, Vermont, would also supply a piece of Lakeside’s menu and future: Green Mountain Coffee. McMaster found it at a bagel shop while on this search. “We started ordering the Green Mountain Coffee because we really liked the taste of it,” she said. 

As McMaster and her husband started to prepare for the opening, they began to generate buzz by slowly introducing it to the community. She explained the method: “We were learning how to make the bagels. I would run samples around to all the businesses in Edinboro so they could try them. And [it was] the same with the cream cheese spreads, because I created them all.” 

She said they would hire high school and college students and work around their schedules, but there was one Edinboro student who she specifically trusted with the tasting. “I had this one particular college student who always tried my spreads … just to make sure I had the right taste and everything,” McMaster explained.

Lakeside Bagel & Deli officially opened on Jan. 1, 1995. The response from the community on opening day was immense. “When we opened it, lines out the door,” McMaster remembered. “We didn’t have any idea how much food to order for sandwiches, or how many spreads to have. We ran out before we could feed all the people. We realized then that we had to up the order.” 

There were two items on the initial menu that stood out to her: the first of which being the cookies. To this day, the shop still uses McMaster’s original recipe. “I had to practice making them in large quantities,” she recalled. “I would make cookies in larger quantities and have to feed them to my friends to see if it matched [how] my cookies were when I made them in smaller batches.” 

The second item was the breakfast bar, which is, according to McMaster, “An oblong type of bagel made from whole wheat flower and nuts and cranberries.” She originally got the idea from an Einstein Bagel, where she saw the breakfast bars about a year after Lakeside opened. “I wasn’t going to ask them for the recipe. But I bought a couple, and I kind of studied them, and just took it from there.” 

At the beginning, they also had help from a friendly baker across state lines, who helped guide the McMasters in the art of bagel-making. “We had searched how to make these bagels in quantities, and there was a baker in Ohio. I can’t remember who he worked for, but he came over and worked with us for a few weeks. He was instrumental in getting us started,” she said.  

Running the business was a team effort for her family, including her two children who worked in the shop. “I have two children, and they were in high school when we opened this up,” McMaster stated proudly. “They worked in it, and they were a big part of it too.” 

Eventually, the McMasters decided to sell the business in 1999 after they divorced. Kathy continued working as a pediatric nurse at UPMC Hamot, still running to the ‘Boro for the food. “They (hospital employees) would always request dozens of bagels. So, whenever I was working, I would always take that up,” she said.

McMaster regularly stops in to Lakeside to this day.

Present Day 

The Arnts purchased the shop from Frank and June Kula, and have changed the menu throughout the years, adding several homemade cream cheeses, the club sandwich, iced coffee, cappuccino, vegetarian items and homemade cinnamon scones. “We were kind of getting feedback from customers as far as what they wanted [to add], and then things that we wanted to see here,” said Arnt. “90% of what we serve here, we make here from scratch.” 

The one thing that has not changed throughout the years, although they've expanded the selection, has been the bagels.  

They bought the recipes for the original bagels, explained Arnt, while they’ve further refined the ingredient list throughout the years. In this process, they've received additional help from their flour supplier in New York. 

“What makes us extremely unique to any other bagel shop in Erie or Crawford County is we boil our bagels (ever since the opening),” said Arnt. This is the original and true way bagels are made in New York. “We make the dough from scratch every single day. The bagel dough is then put into a boiling kettle. Once they rise because of the yeast, then they’re put on bagel boards and put in the oven. The boiling process is what gives them the crunchy, hard outside, and the soft center. Other places in Erie and Crawford County just steam their bagels, so they’re steaming it like a bread.” For this, they use large kettle vats, the copper shining as the steam rises.  

There have been more than a few customer favorites from over the years. “Believe it or not, our coffee,” said Arnt. “We have several customers that come in every day just for our coffee, the Green Mountain Coffee … Probably our most popular bagel is our plain bagel or the everything bagel, and as far as what goes on them, our breakfast sandwiches are very popular.” 

The customers range from all over, including some who come down from Canada. But the big seal of approval came from those who know bagels better than anyone. “We have people from New Jersey; we have a couple of guys that come over and say, ‘You’re the best ones in PA,’” she said proudly. 

Over the years, the shop has grown with the town and community of Edinboro. “I’m very fortunate as far as my staff goes,” said Arnt. “Usually, we get someone here when they’re 17, 18, and they stay through college if they go local. I feel that’s due to the fact that we treat our employees as family, and they treat us as family. I think we have a great staff.” 

She also believes social media was essential to the growth of the shop. “We do more with social media now. People are more familiar with us and want to stop down and try the bagels.”  

And with COVID-19, the loyalty of the customers stands out even more to Arnt, with some even coming from farther away. “People comment on how well we take care of the place. This year, I think we saw a lot of customers from the Pittsburgh area ... instead on going on big, huge vacations, they’ve come up and stayed at Lakeside. We’ve had a ton of tourists in the area.”  

Edinboro University has played a large part in the growth of the shop, as well, with bagels being sold in Pogue Student Center at the Cyber Café, starting about three years ago. “We definitely couldn’t survive without the college,” she said.  

Arnt adds they are grateful for the demand. “Even though some businesses have come in and out, we’ve been fortunate as far as the item that we serve and the quality of our bagels.” 

Looking to the Future 

The future of Lakeside Bagel & Deli involves a new location. According to their recent Facebook post, the business is moving to the Mill at 500 Plum St., joining several others at the location. The renovated space will create commercial room for up to five businesses.  

Arnt mentioned they had first been approached about the project two years ago, the shop having been called an “icon” of Edinboro. “Parking has always been an issue here, and up there [is] three times as much parking,” she said. They initially refused, but began thinking about the amount of space they needed to expand their output.

“We’ve actually gotten too big here, especially as far as the kitchen space goes. We don’t make so many bagels due to where our kitchen is at,” explained Arnt. The seating will still be limited to about 50 people, but there will be more space at the coffee area and behind the counter. “We’re going to be expanding our kitchen, possibly offering some gluten-free scones, and bringing in some different kind of coffee. We’re looking at expressos and lattes to add to the bagel shop.” 

Lakeside is also hoping to expand their outreach to local academic institutions. “When the colleges get back to normal, we’d also like to push out and do some more deliveries to colleges,” she added, saying it would be “bulk deliveries for the kitchens and cafes.” 

“Moving all the equipment is the biggest challenge, but it’s also been a challenge with the ‘Boro as far as getting permits and zoning,” Arnt stated. “We have to get all that done before we even start the moving process.” 

Deanna and Tony are currently in the process of getting permits, and they are hoping to be moved in by December. Once their landlord finishes renovations on the new space, they will be able to start moving equipment in. “[It’s] very heavy, and the oven [and kettle] are enormous.” 

The bagel shop will continue to be an Edinboro institution and an authentic taste of NYC, with the scent of made-from-scratch bagels going right out of the kettle and into the oven, refreshing even the weariest of travelers.

Thomas Taylor is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

Additional Photos:

Photo: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly Firestine
 

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