After noticing a dearth of bagel shops in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, husband and wife Art and Kim Zacharczyk decided to fill the niche, opening Artz Bagelz (3138 Magazine St., 309-7557; www.artzbagelz.com) in 2011. "We thought New Orleans was ready for a place dedicated to making really good, traditional bagels," Kim says.
But this wasn't the first time Art opened a restaurant to satisfy his craving: More than 25 years ago, he moved from his native New Jersey to Pennsylvania's Pocono mountains, where there was nary a traditional bagel in sight. "He missed having bagels, so he taught himself how to make them, which eventually led to these shops," Kim says.
The Zacharcyzks make the bagels, cream cheese spreads, coleslaw and potato salad in house. Bagels and lox, breakfast sandwiches and Asiago cheese bagels with sun-dried tomato cream cheese are popular menu items, as is the everything bagel. "On a typical weekend, we will sell upwards of 40 dozen (everything bagels)," Kim says. They've also sold blueberry bagels with roast beef and horseradish sauce.
By design, Artz Bagelz is not a place to lounge but a place to get in, grab a bite and go about your day — very East Coast. Yet employees still find the time to learn regular customers' names and their life stories — very Southern. When the Zacharcyzks aren't serving regular customers, some of whom are local celebrities, they cater to stars on film sets. One of Kim's favorite Artz Bagelz memories happened on the set of The Campaign.
"They were filming at the Confederate Museum, and the [head of craft services] showed us around his trucks and equipment, and then took us in the museum to see the set," Kim says. "Art had on his Artz Bagelz cap and shirt, and the next thing I knew, I heard somebody ask, 'Hey, are you guys the ones supplying the bagels every day?' And when we said that we were, the production crew literally started clapping and cheering."
After being in business for a year, the Zacharcyzks are expanding, moving bagel production to a larger location, reconfiguring the space at the Magazine Street location and opening a second location on Baronne Street in late fall. Kim developed her business sense from her entrepreneurial family, so she was eager and prepared to play a role in the founding of Artz Bagelz.
"We have great respect for every small business owner out there, no matter the industry, because this takes passion, drive and a really thick skin," Kim says.