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For a New York-style bagel shop whose website cheekily proclaims, “no bearded hipster baristas here,” the locals-only vibes are stronger than the coffee at Mitch’s Downtown Bagel Café in Fort Lauderdale.
For one, the centerpiece of Mitch’s 2,000-square-foot deli is pure Instagram bait: a cursive neon slogan, emblazoned across a faux-grass wall: “Bagels Don’t Count As Carbs.” (A trendy mural covering another wall is in the works.) The shop, set to debut in October, even sits on the ground floor of the 385-apartment Motif Flagler Village mid-rise, across the street from FAT Village’s funky warehouses.
Then there is co-owner Adam Shidlofsky, who says the fast-casual deli represents a “millenialized” offshoot of Mitch’s Westside Bagels in Weston, his father’s namesake shop.
He calls it a deli marriage of classic and modern, combining pastrami on unseeded rye with grab-and-go efficiency (think breakfast sandwiches) craved by Flagler Village’s young urbanites.
“We’re taking what my dad did with the classic New York deli — your bagels, your knishes, your matzoh ball soups — and updating it for the future,” explains Shidlofsky, 26, who will run the deli with his father, Mitch. “Besides, the Weston demographic is changing, and a lot of Mitch’s fans moved out east. Fort Lauderdale is just a different ballpark. People want green juice and nitro cold brew. Why not offer it?”
The 36-seat restaurant (with 20 patio seats) will feature scratch-made bagels, Angus hamburgers and deli sandwiches, along with trendier avocado toast, nitro cold-brew coffee and all-day breakfast sandwiches. Deli meats like pastrami and corned beef, as with Mitch’s Westside Bagels, will be sourced by closed New York icon Carnegie Deli, which now lives on online marketplace Goldbelly. That deli also will supply Mitch’s knishes, cheesecake, babka, black-and-white cookies and stuffed cabbage. Coffee roasts will come from nearby Wells Coffee, also in Flagler Village.
The bagels, using Mitch Shidlofsky’s longtime recipe, are proofed and steamed onsite and two deli slicers will turn out overstuffed Ruebens, Rachels and Monte Cristos. An old-school appetizing case parked near the register beckons with plates of whitefish, salmon, egg and housemade chicken salad with pecans and cranberries.
Grab-and-go sandwiches will include the Hangover, stacked with scrambled egg, cheese, bacon and hash browns on a fresh bagel; the Pastrami BFAST with spring greens, two medium eggs, pastrami, cheddar and everything bagel seasoning; and the BECTA, a bagel loaded with bacon, eggs, cheese, truffle oil and avocado.
“These are ingredients my dad already carried in his [Weston] shop, and now they’re grab-and-go items,” he says. “Lots of old diners have huge, eye-popping menus, but ours is smaller for millennials who need something fast but feel paralyzed with indecision.”
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As a millennial in a pandemic, Shidlofsky wrestled with the same indecision. Three months ago he quit his New York job as an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers to help his father, 61, open the trendy downtown café. He says Mitch resisted at first, encouraging his son to use his Master’s degree instead of taking on the same long hours, tight profit margins and hardships that defined his father’s career.
“My dad never wanted me or my brother in the business,” Shidlofsky says. “But he’s getting older and I’m hungry and motivated. It’s funny because, when I came home from working in New York due to COVID, I begged to work with him. One day we were trapped at home, and he said, ‘If you’re serious, go [to the shop] and bake bagels at 5 a.m. I said ‘OK.’ And I did it.”
Shidlofsky is aware that another New York-style deli, Top Hat, sits a quarter-mile away in Flagler Village, but both share little in common, he says.
“Top Hat does really well, but we have a different vibe,” says Shidlofsky, who sees big potential with catering for downtown offices. “We’re doing our own thing.”
Mitch’s Downtown Bagel Café will debut this October at 540 N. Andrews Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-446-6446 or go to MitchsDowntown.com.