After a fire forced Poppy’s Bagels to shutter its doors last February, owner Rabbi Jacob Geffner was happy to re-open last month and reclaim the reign of being the only certified kosher bagel and pizza shop around.
His many customers were happy, too.
"I come all the way from New York for an art class in Summit," said Ruby Langer. "After class I would join my daughter here for lunch. We’re so glad he is open again and we can continue our standing Wednesday lunch date here."
No one was in the store when equipment malfunctioned causing a fire last February. Geffner keeps everything on a timer in order for the systems to be hot and ready when he and his staff arrive in the mornings to begin making and baking everything from scratch. There was a vent at the bottom of the oven to take the carbon outside. The fire department found that a piece of a pipe connected to the vent broke, which caused the carbon to ignite instead of release, Geffner explained.
"The town was very helpful during the 10 months it took me to rebuild," Geffner said. "They scheduled inspections right away and assisted me in every step to get back on my feet. I can't thank them enough."
Poppy’s Bagels began in Teaneck almost a decade ago. When it was time to expand, Geffner said fate brought him to West Orange, "After a conversation with the owner of Chopstix in West Orange [who also has a restaurant in Teaneck] and realizing I went to school with the rabbis here, it was an easy decision." In West Orange, he found a great community that had a need for his services.
West Orange resident Andrew Becker was happy Poppy’s Bagels re-opened and is able to maintain a kosher presence in the community. The store is under the rabbinical supervision of the local Va’ad Hakashrut, the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of MetroWest, New Jersey. For a place to be kosher, it either sells meat or dairy, or has to have separate kitchens. Poppy’s Bagels has one kitchen and sells dairy-based products.
"It's funny, most of our clientele isn't kosher and once in a while someone will order something like taylor ham with their breakfast," said Geffner. The menu ranges from mac and cheese to soup or salad, and of course pizza, bagels and lox. There doesn't appear to be one main popular item on the menu, though Geffner said people do like the fact they can create their own salads.
"Every week I have my standard order of a salad with light honey mustard and tuna," said customer Paula Blank.
When asked, "What’s the secret ingredient in the bagels?"
Geffner replied, "extra love."