Some of Kate Lloyd’s earliest memories include feasting on plain, mini bagels from the Cub Foods bakery department. She would split and toast the miniature rolls-with-holes, then smother them with spreads—butter on one side, cream cheese on the other. “I ate so many bagels that my dad started calling me bagel face.” Kate laughs, circling her face with her index finger. Kate and her older sister, Jen, are the proprietors and sole bakers of Minneapolis’ Rise Bagel Co., which debuted at the Fulton Farmers Market last spring. “What started out as an ordinary love for bagels became a tradition for our family.” Kate’s eyes light up as she takes a moment to reflect on her childhood. “We traveled a lot as a family, and we sought out artisan bagels on every trip.”
This family tradition stuck with the sisters. As they grew older, and settled in Minneapolis, Kate and Jen retired their Cub Foods and national bagel chain cravings. They started a new pursuit—searching locally for the flavors and textures they encountered throughout their travels.
"We got to the point where we were frustrated that we couldn’t find a bagel that we loved in the Twin Cities. So, one day, we just decided, ‘Let’s try to make them.’"
They began experimenting with different recipes. While holding weekly bake-a-thons in Jen’s petite, Loring Park kitchen, the sisters made countless small batches of dough with their late grandmother’s, decades-old KitchenAid. “We’ve certainly worn that thing down,” Kate breathes, half guilty, half proud. Her sleek, shoulder length hair shuffles side-to-side as she leans in with her words.
As Kate and Jen’s hobby transformed into a steadfast passion, they began to ask themselves, “Will we regret it if we don’t do something bigger with this?”
In the fall of 2013, the sisters found time to vacation from their full time jobs and travel to different corners of the country. They researched techniques and ingredient combinations in San Francisco and New York City, but felt that in order to craft their own recipe, they would need to try bagels from New York’s rival to the north, Montreal.
"On the heels of our trip out east, Jen and I found it hard to get away. We had been keeping our eyes on flights to Montreal and decided that we were going to have to make a quick in and out trip.” So, spur of the moment on a Saturday afternoon, Kate and Jen found themselves at the airport, boarding a flight to Canada with just their purses in hand.
Sunday quickly crept up on the sisters. At 4AM, they found themselves retreating to a coffee shop to share notes and fuel up on caffeine. Exhausted, but content, they caught the first metro to the airport, and began their 4-hour journey back home. “We just stayed up all night. It’s pretty spot on to what we do now.”
After settling back in to life at home, Kate and Jen put their research to the test. They found themselves bumping elbows in Jen's tiny kitchen and testing the patience of their grandma’s mixer. It didn't take long for them to realize that they needed better equipment and more space. Their working conditions simply made the process too laborious.
“When we were accepted into the Fulton Farmers Market, we knew we needed to move into a commercial kitchen.” The sisters started renting at City Food Studio, a shared-use, food production facility in Midtown, and began increasing their output. Now, they consistently craft 700 bagels during a 15-hour period. Smiling, Kate acknowledges, “It really is a true labor of love.”
Kate and Jen found their signature style by taking bits and pieces of information from each of their adventures to create something new. Put simply: they're using local and organic ingredients to bring an artisan bagel to the Midwest. By combining a New York-style malt barley syrup boil with a crisp, heavily garnished, Montreal exterior, they've created a balanced bagel that truly fills a gaping Twin Cities void.
"We definitely see a need for it, we are having a lot of fun doing it, but the question is, where do we go with it? We’ll see what comes next."