Words by Aliya Hall, Photos by Andy Nelson/ The Register-Guard
Salted bagels and house-cured lox are two East Coast treats that Scott Lilly offers at his shop, Lox, Stocks and Bagels in the south hills of Eugene.
The shop opened last summer in the Edgewood Center at 40th Avenue and Donald Street. Besides a wide assortment of bagels, the shop sells soups salads and bagel sandwiches.
A New Jersey native, Lilly noticed a lack of what he calls “real bagels” when he moved to Oregon in 2007.
“I thought this area needed something like this,” he said of his shop. “Hopefully, I’m right.”
So far, the signs are encouraging, he said.
Lilly’s New York-style bagels are made by boiling dough in a solution of water, sugar, baking soda and salt before baking; this results in a crispier crust on the bagel’s outer layers.
Lilly, 54, is no stranger to the restaurant business. He began as a cook in 1992, working his way up to management positions.
During his 10 years in Eugene, Lilly has managed Sweet Waters, Ambrosia, The Bridge, all in Eugene, the Vintage Inn in Cottage Grove, and a Taco Bell in Springfield.
He said his previous experience showed him the “ins and outs” of restaurant budgeting and how to manage inventory and order food.
“Some people who open restaurants have experience in the kitchen or the front of the house, but not really both,” Lilly said. “I have a little of both.”
Lilly opened Lox, Stocks and Bagels in his south Eugene neighborhood, where he says there’s nothing similar.
He was encouraged to open the business by his friend Boris Wiedenfeld-Needham, the owner of Bo’s Wine Depot, also in the Edgewood Center.
The two had met when Lilly was working at Ambrosia, but their friendship grew because Lilly and his wife, Gayle, shop at Bo’s Wine Depot.
Lilly and Wiedenfeld-Needham bonded over their passion for food, and Lilly mentioned that he baked bagels.
“I’m a big fan of bagels, having lived on the East Coast for many years,” Wiedenfeld-Needham said in an email. “(I) have been known to complain that you can’t get any decent bagels on the West Coast.”
When Lilly brought bagels he had baked to a weekend wine tasting at Bo’s Wine Depot, Wiedenfeld-Needham said he didn’t expect much. However, he said he was “totally blown away by how incredible these bagels were.”
“They were every bit as good as what I was used to getting in NYC or Boston,” Wiedenfeld-Needham said.
The bagels were “a great candidate to be turned into a successful business.”
People at the wine shop tastings were excited about the bagels, Lilly said, which gave him another reason to be encouraged.
When a storefront became vacant next to Bo’s Wine Depot, Wiedenfeld-Needham thought of expanding into the space before thinking of Lilly. He knew that Lilly was managing the Taco Bell, and “it was pretty clear he wasn’t happy there.”
“I said half-jokingly, ‘Hey, Scott. You should quit your job and open a bagel joint next door.’ As soon as I had said it, I realized that might really work,” Wiedenfeld-Needham said. “I could tell that he was not opposed to the idea, and maybe six months later he opened.”
Lox, Stocks and Bagels is a 1,200-square-foot shop that seats 20 people at five tables. Guests order off a large blackboard menu. Artwork on the wall includes an impressionist painting of the New York City skyline and a photograph of the city, as well as photos of Coos Bay and the Willamette River.
It cost about $100,000 to open the business. Lilly had two financial backers: a good friend from Iowa and his mother-in-law.
His key purchases included an oven, stove, large kettle with lid to boil bagels, Italian espresso machine, mixer and refrigerator.
Lilly employs 10 people.
The shop’s name originated from a Facebook post, where a friend of Lilly’s wrote: “Here’s your one and only chance to name a bagel shop.”
“People replied, and my favorite one was actually the first response,” Lilly said. “Then it got snarky after 10.”
He opened the shop on Aug. 9, and said “business has been very good.”
“We have a Facebook page and Yelp, but haven’t really advertised,” Lilly said. “We did a grand opening mailer, but otherwise it’s been word-of-mouth. And we’ve been doing really well. Sales have been increasing pretty dramatically over the past couple months.”
He is projecting sales of $300,000 in the first 12 months.
As the name suggests, the shop offers more than bagels and lox. “Stocks” refer to the shop’s made-from-scratch soup stocks, Lilly said.
“We make everything homemade, including the soup,” he said. “We make it from bones and veggies. We smoke our own fish and cure our own lox. Nothing is frozen. Nothing is premade, except for the cream cheese.”
Meat is purchased locally from Long’s Meat Market and fish from Newman’s Fish Market. Coffee and espresso is from Coffee Plant Roasters in Eugene.
Lilly makes 11 different types of bagels, including salt bagels, which are an East Coast staple and Lilly’s favorite. Bagels cost $1.25 each, and are available in a baker’s dozen for $12.
Breakfast and lunch bagel sandwich options include lox and cream cheese, chopped liver, egg salad, and smoked white fish and cream cheese.
Prices vary from $1.75 for a bagel with butter, jam, or honey spread to $9 for a lox and cream cheese bagel.
The shop also sells three different salads and a soup of the day.
Business is brisk between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. The shop offers a student discount, which contributes to a busy time after school gets out.
“We have a lot of kids from Spencer Butte (Middle School) and give them 50-cent bagels,” he said.
Lilly said community response to the shop has been “excellent.”
“A lot of people are excited we’re open,” he said. “There’s no one selling what we’re selling.”
Lilly is hoping to grow his business. He isn’t sure of his next step, whether it’s opening a second location or selling bagels wholesale.
He said the most rewarding aspect of opening the shop has been the positive response of customers to his bagels, confirming there was a need for New York-style bagels in Eugene.
“Finding out there are a large group of people who actually want New York-style bagels,” he added. “Thank goodness.”
LOX, STOCKS AND BAGELS
Bagel shop specializing in New York-style bagels, bagel sandwiches, lox and soups.
Address: 368 E. 40th St.
Owner: Scott Lilly
Year founded: 2017
Annual sales: $300,000, projected
Hours: Weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.