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Aaron Wagner a fifth-generation bagel maker, has recently opened his fifth bagel shop. Photo: Philly Inquirer
Aaron Wagner a fifth-generation bagel maker, has recently opened his fifth bagel shop. Photo: Philly Inquirer

Philly Bagels, the local bakery chain that has three generations worth of roots in the city

Owner Aaron Wagner’s great-grandfather worked at a bagel union in Brooklyn, New York before his son brought the business to Philly.

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Aaron Wagner, the owner of Philly Bagels, has a unique backstory to his bagel shop.

“My great-great-grandfather came over from Warsaw, Poland, and in 1910, my great-grandfather and his son worked at a Bagel union in Brooklyn,” Wagner said.

His roots go deep into the bagel business, so it was only natural to expand the family business to its greatest potential.

“My father opened up our first Philly shop on 3rd and South St, in the middle of the 1996 snowstorm,” he said.

From then on, the business was booming, which made expansion to different parts of Philly a natural growth.

“We have shops on 20th and Fitzwater, Passyunk, Chestnut St., and we are always looking to expand,” said Wagner.

He has also opened up a shop on JFK Blvd. in 2019.

Wagner has vivid memories of jumping on top of flour bags while his grandfather taught him how to make their famous bagels.

“Ever since I was able to stand above the kettle, I was always working in shops,” he said.

It was quite the journey for Wagner to understand the family business, but since it came naturally to him, he is proud to call himself a ‘bagel maker.’

“I love what I do and I love providing Philadelphians with a traditional product that has been passed down,” he said. “I’m happy that I get to share that with other families.

The fresh bagels that Wagner and his employees create on a daily basis are handmade and New York-style, which means that they are boiled in a kettle and then baked.

“It is how my grandfather taught me,” he said.

From chocolate chip bagels usually topped with Nutella, honey, and banana slices, to the traditional everything bagel, Wagner’s shops are bagel heaven.

 

“We also have a variety of different spreads like spinach, cheddar horseradish, apple raisin, and a lot more,” he said.

His shop also cracks their own wheat to make whole wheat bagels. But the big bucks come in during breakfast.

“Our bestsellers have to be our traditional breakfast sandwiches,” said Wagner.

 

Wagner’s tasty pieces of history are just what Philly locals need to get their morning started.

Fluffy and warm on the inside, with just the right amount of crisp on the outside.

Add some tangy jalapeño cream cheese and you will be in a good mood until lunchtime.

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