Tag Archives: Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg: Pop (Up) Goes The Bagel

What can be better than a pop-up bagel shop?

Two of them.

Last week, “06880” featured Sugar & Olives’ Saturday morning pick-up service. Today we highlight a delicious Sunday option, courtesy of Adam Goldberg.

Bagels represent the third career for the longtime Westporter. In 2012, after years in structured finance, he bought the rights to flood mitigation company Aquafence.

He still operates it. But the pandemic hit that industry hard, like so many others.

With time on his hands — and a lifelong love of cooking and entertaining — he began baking. After a year and a half on the keto diet (and a mild case of COVID), Goldberg was ready for some lockdown carbs.

He made sourdoughs, pizzas and pastas.

Then came bagels.

Using his own recipe, Goldberg invited friends to stop by. He’d send out a text at 6 a.m.: “I’m baking today. Stop by.”

This was a great way to see them — if only to hand them his bagels through a backyard pick-up window, while chatting for a minute or two.

Adam Goldberg, his wife Jen, his bagels, his back yard, and his window (background).

He had no set schedule. That didn’t matter, because every day blended into every other one.

Word spread. His text chain grew. Now Goldberg was getting requests for bagels from “tertiary friends.”

November 1 was his birthday. In normal years, he throws a party. This time, he teamed with Filling in the Blanks, the Norwalk non-profit that provides weekend meals to needy children. His bagel sale raised around $1,000.

That drew more attention. Soon, 1200 people were requesting bagels. Most were strangers.

Help came when Rachel Golan reached out. The wife of Don Memo owner Bill Taibe offered their kitchen on a Sunday morning.

Goldberg was not sure if that would work. “Bagels are sensitive,” he notes. “I didn’t know if the oven or the process would be right.”

In early December, he took a chance. He baked 300 bagels.

All were quickly gobbled up.

A few of Adam Goldberg’s many bagels. (Photo/Jen Goldberg)

For his second Sunday, Goldberg devised an advance online ordering system. He cut that off at 500 bagels.

His third and fourth efforts were capped at 1,000 each. Both sold out — within minutes.

He, his wife and local kids he hired hand-delivered bagels over the holidays. They too sold out in seconds.

This past Wednesday, it took just 82 seconds for all bagels to be spoken for. Another 155 names joined the wait list.

“I never set out to sell,” Goldberg says. “But people keep knocking. I’ve been in the flood business for all these years. I never had 500 people on my mailing list.”

He no longer works alone. Golan helps bake; so do a doctor, fashion executive and hedge fund woman.

“It’s 6:30 in the morning. The radio is on. I’m with good friends, rolling bagels. There’s no place I’d rather be,” Goldberg says.

Behind the scenes in the Don Memo kitchen. From left: Rachel Golan, David Levinson,
Jason Epstein, Adam Goldberg. (Photo/Ria Rueda)

Recently, he got a state license. It allows him to cook non-perishable items at home, for sale.

Goldberg’s goods have gained notice — and not just from normal, run-of-the-mill bagel lovers.

CTbites recently included Pop Up Bagels on its “Top Eats for 2020” — by 2 separate food writers. Goldberg was listed along with some of the top restaurants (and chefs) in the state.

The past months have taught the bagel baker some important lessons. For example: “It’s exciting to grow a business. It’s always tricky to scale something done at home. But if you make a great product, there’s a market for it.”

That market includes many people with “childhood memories of eating great bagels,” Goldberg says. Seemingly all grew up in the tri-state area.

Those memories are strong. When he ran an online contest (the prize: a dozen bagels) asking for recollections, the nearly 100 responses were “off the charts. People remembered smells, sights, everything. There’s a lot of nostalgia for bagels.”

Each Sunday, he gets feedback.

“Thanks for letting me buy your bagels,” one customer wrote. “I feel like I won the lottery.”

“This Long Island girl finally feels at home here,” another said.

Such comments are gratifying. They could turn a bagel maker’s head. But Goldberg is not biting. He tells people who urge him to expand: “We’re taking our time. We want to be sure to hit it right.”

He pauses. “It’s a hobby gone wild.’

(Goldberg typically bakes salted poppy, sesame, Maldon salt, cinnamon raisin, everything and plain bagels; occasionally he adds honey whole wheat. Don Memo offers an artisan schmear, when you pick up your bagels. To be notified of upcoming sales, follow popupbagels on Instagram or click here.)

Truckin’: From Westport To Houston In 3 (Not So) Easy Days

Last Saturday, dozens of people headed to the Imperial Avenue parking lot. They dropped off piles of goods, for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Soon, a 30-foot truck loaded with donations headed south.

Adam Goldberg — the Westporter who masterminded the effort — sends this report:

After a successful packing job, with many residents moving and lifting boxes, the Aquafence truck went on its way.

But just an hour in — by Elizabeth, New Jersey — the driver noticed something was not right. After a diagnostic test, he discovered the truck was 100% overweight.

Scrambling for a solution, we found an article about the Elizabeth Fire Department doing a donation drive for Harvey victims. To their surprise, our truck pulled up with donations for their truck.

We gave them 1/3 of our stuff — mostly used clothing and some heavier gear. We knew it would eventually make it to Texas, so we felt good.

The New Jersey transfer: from the Westport Aquafence truck, to the Elizabeth one.

There was more to come. The truck had 2 flat tires on the way, but arrived safely in Houston Tuesday morning — only 1 day behind schedule.

Our first assigned location was the Kingwood relief center. The neighborhood was hit hard, and many people lost everything. We unloaded half our items there, focusing on what they needed most.

We then headed to our 2nd drop site. The Church Without Walls was a much larger facility, serving much of western Houston.

As with Kingwood, while we were not the only truck delivering supplies that day, they were thrilled to see us. They offered us a meal, a hug and a huge thank you.

Adding to the donations in Houston.

It was now 3 p.m. We had been delivering goods since 8 a.m., but we had one more task ahead of us that day.

Our next mission was to provide a delicious hot meal for those in need. We had been lined up to cook for the Southeast Houston relief center on Wednesday for 200 people. But local authorities asked us to cook instead for a funeral honoring a police sergeant and first responder who died in the storm.

With the support of our intended cooking spot to switch our venue, it was now up to another Westporter, Jason Epstein, who had flown down to help prepare food for 500 or more people.

We also needed to buy the grills and cooking supplies, which were to be donated after the cook. With the help of some amazing locals who joined us, we pulled it all off.

We made beef, chicken and shrimp tacos. But the biggest hit was the kale Caesar salad.

Grilling in Houston, Westport-style: Jason Epstein (left) and Adam Goldberg.

The cash donations we’d collected, from a Westport lemonade stand and others, went to an amazing cause. Three large grills, along with 2 generators, were delivered to the Southeast Houston Relief Mission. They still lack electricity, but now they can serve hot meals every day.

When our 2 days were over, we delivered our vehicle to the Houston FEMA office. They gave us a fascinating tour of central command — and were even kind enough to drive us to the airport.

We’re back now. But we will never forget this amazing experience helping others.

FEMA’s Houston headquarters.

 

Hurricane Harvey: Updated Most-Needed List

“06880” readers have reacted quickly to Adam Goldberg’s request for Hurricane Harvey help.

The Westporter is organizing a truckload of relief efforts for victims. He’s also donating the 30-foot truck itself, once it arrives in Texas.

Workers in Houston say that right now, the most needed items are:

  • Backpacks filled with school supplies
  • Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
  • New underwear and socks (for all ages)
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Cleaning supplies and scrub brushes.

People who have already told Goldberg (adam.goldberg@aquafence.com) that they’ll bring clothing to the collection point (Imperial Avenue parking lot this Saturday, September 9, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) should still do so.

But, Goldberg says, the items above are desperately needed too.

He’s gratified by the response so far.

Including the lemonade stand he saw last weekend. Children used his flyer to solicit donations.

He has no idea who they were. But — like Goldberg, and many other Westporters — they were doing whatever they can to help.

Fill A Truck For Harvey

Adam Goldberg is a longtime Westporter. His company, Aquafence, provides state of-the-art removable flood barriers that work great in emergencies, but are kept out of sight the rest of the time.

His product was not available in Texas when Hurricane Harvey roared through. But that doesn’t mean he can’t help.

Goldberg is sending a 30-foot truck to Houston. He hopes it will be filled to the brim with supplies — donated by area residents.

He’s looking for:

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Snack bars, granola and fruit bars
  • Cleaning materials and detergents
  • Diapers and formula
  • Clean blankets and pillows
  • Soap, shampoo, deodorant and bug spray
  • School supplies
  • Toys
  • Pet food
  • Clean, sorted and folded clothes
  • Paper products.

Donations should be brought in boxes and bags, labeled with what’s inside. They can be brought to the Imperial Avenue parking lot this Saturday (September 9, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

Please email Goldberg (adam.goldberg@aquafence.com) beforehand, with a list of goods being donated or any questions.

PS: Goldberg’s generosity extends far beyond collecting and delivering much-needed goods. After driving the truck to Houston, he’ll donate it to a relief organization there — for keeps.

He’ll fly home. And no doubt start organizing his next project.

Westporters are doing what they can to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Yesterday, Sammi and Spencer Henske went shopping for supplies.