Jacob and Alexandra Cohen have gone from bupkis to bagels, and now bialys, in two years.
The husband-wife duo were a Realtor and an advertising salesperson, respectively, in spring 2020. To allay their pandemic doldrums, they began baking bagels at home. When they posted about their hobby on a Northern Liberties neighborhood Facebook page, orders and donations flooded in.
A pop-up at Urban Village Brewing brought in $1,200, which they donated to Project HOME. They went pro with wholesale, baking first out of a shared commissary at the nearby Liberty Kitchen and later out of larger facility at MaKen Studios North in Kensington.
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Earlier this month, they opened a shop at 113 E. Girard Ave. in Fishtown while continuing to sell wholesale and retail at farmer’s markets. Next up, in September they plan to open a bagel and bialy bakery at Reading Terminal Market.
The bialy, says Jacob Cohen, is the Next Big Thing in bread baking. But actually, it’s an Old Thing.
A humble, Polish-rooted cousin of the bagel, bialys have a deep dimple that can act as a vessel for various fillings. Traditionally, bialys are filled with onion, salt, or poppy seeds, but the Cohens plan all sorts of flavors at the Terminal, some inspired by collaborations with local chefs and food businesses.
» READ MORE: Your complete guide to Reading Terminal Market
Kismet’s name is part of the lore. Alexandra Panagos was 5 years old when she met 8-year-old Jacob Cohen in Margate through their grandmothers, longtime friends. The kids lost touch for about 20 years.
When Cohen moved back to Philadelphia from Brooklyn, he ran into Panagos’ grandmother, who insisted that he reach out to her. Within weeks, they moved in together, and they were married a year later, in 2018.