Mile End has a new bagel bakery — and yes, you’re reading that correctly.
Newcomer District Bagel just opened its doors on Parc Avenue between St-Viateur and Bernard, taking on Montreal bagel titans St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel on their home turf.
District is not brand new to the bagel game — its owners started out as a catering company named Sandwich Plus, but later purchased the former Mount Royal Bagel in TMR. That bakery was renamed District Bagel, and sells Montreal-style bagels from its base on Lucerne Road, at the southwest corner of TMR.
The new location on Parc marks its first expansion. Taking on Montreal’s two big-name bagel bakeries could be a very tall order, but District Bagel is at least offering a few things that Fairmount and St-Viateur don’t. It serves sandwiches, some non-bagel pastries, and has a variety of flavoured cream cheese to schmear onto its bagels. That’s in comparison to the two classics, which function mostly as bakeries, with a small selection of extras for customers to purchase and add to bagels in a DIY fashion (for example, tiny tubs of Philadelphia cream cheese).
(To be clear, St-Viateur does have three full-service breakfast and lunch restaurants, but none of them are in Mile End).
There’s one other thing going for District Bagel — it, unlike Fairmount and St-Viateur, is certified kosher, and will close on Friday evenings and Saturdays, in order to observe Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath). That also gives it a solid potential customer base in the area’s large Hasidic community.
Of course, Montreal’s bagel scene does go beyond those two big players — a number of other neighbourhood-level bagel shops have found success around town (such as Le Trou or M.T.L. Bagel). However, none have set up shop in Mile End or other parts of town where St-Viateur has expanded.
Plus, for what it’s worth, District Bagel is a well-liked spot within TMR — time will tell whether that’s enough to help them find success in the neighbourhood where the Montreal bagel was born, but you can’t deny that it’s a bold move to open in Mile End.