Like so many other ‘Mom & Pop’ business owners in our region, Michael Bacon confronted a pandemic-related staffing problem at his two Brewburgers restaurants, the popular burger company he founded here in Venice. Simply put, he could not keep enough staff to make both Brewburgers locations operate at his demanding level. So back in May he made the tough decision to close his Venice Island location and send all his staff to the larger Commercial Court site.
“I decided it was better to have at least one location operating effectively,” the ever-friendly Michael laughs and says. “It’s a hard reality, but there just isn’t enough staff right now to go around.”
But Michael had worked too hard to simply shutter his beloved Venice Island location. It was time to get creative.
“I’d had a bagel concept in my mind for awhile,” Michael explains. “My wife is from upstate New York and is a bagel fanatic. We have the equipment for bagels at the Venice Island Brewburgers, it's the same equipment for pizza. Bagels and pizza take less staffing than a full service restaurant. Bagel shops close at 2 PM, right when pizza shops are opening. So I thought, why not marry the two concepts and make great use of our space?”
The result is Brew-Za-Bagels, a bagel and pizza shop featuring a wide variety of bagels and cream cheese flavors. The bagels are made and boiled by New York bagel companies in the Bronx and Manhattan, and flash frozen. They are then baked in the ovens at Brew-Za-Bagels. Brew-Za-Bagels also makes it pizza dough from scratch daily, serves beer and wine, and locally roasted Black Gold coffee.
“We opened the first week of August and it has been gangbusters,” Michael says. “Our first day, someone posted in a Venice foodies’ community that the bagels are so good, they cried in their car. In just our first six days in August, we sold 2,056 bagels! They have that traditional flavor you can only get with a bagel boiled in New York water.”
Brew-Za-Bagel’s motto is ‘A Slice of NY in the Sunshine State.’ It offers a wide variety of bagels, all boiled in NYC and baked on location, as well as breakfast sandwiches, NY style pizza, and pizza bagels.
Brew-Za-Bagels sandwiches are named for NYC neighborhoods. The ‘Manhattan’ breakfast bagel sandwich features lox, capers, diced red onion, tomato and a ‘schmear’ of plain cream cheese. The ‘Staten Island’ has egg with avocado, red onion, and cream cheese. The ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ lunch bagel sandwich has corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing on a pumpernickel bagel.
Brew-Za-Bagels makes its pizza dough from scratch daily. The thin crust, NY-style pizzas include the 'Buffalo Chicken,' the 'Shrimp Fra Diavolo,' the 'Chicken Cordon Blue,' and many others, including 'Build Your Own.' Many of Brew-Za-Bagels pizzas are available by the slice. Try a 'Jean Marie' featuring diced garlic tomatoes, sausage, and sage with mozzarella.
Brew-Za-Burgers serves coffee roasted locally by Black Gold Coffee Roasters. It's 'Big Bagel Office Combo' deal has 12 bagels, flavored cream cheese, and 12 cups of coffee. Brew-Za-Bagels also caters.
525 Tamiami Trail South, Venice (In the Publix Plaza on the island). 941.786.3129. Brewzabagels.com.
370 Commercial Court, Venice. 941.484.2337. Brewburgers.com.