A bag of a dozen bagels from Rover Bagel. Photos by Bob Keyes

BIDDEFORD — Isn’t it great when systems work as designed? Cooking and selling bagels isn’t rocket science, but I imagine it can be tricky and challenging to make everything come together smoothly so it functions like clockwork.

Case in point: Rover Bagel, newly reopened for takeout only in the Pepperell Mill campus at 10 W. Point Lane, in North Dam Building 10. I woke early on the coldest morning of the winter (so far), pulled up the Rover Bagel website, placed and paid for an order of a dozen bagels, cream cheese and a couple of sandwiches for pick-up at 7:30 a.m., watched a bit of the morning news and then headed north to Biddeford to retrieve my order. At precisely 7:30 a.m., just as I pulled into the parking lot, I received a text saying my order was ready and I could pick it up.

No more than 30 seconds later, I was back in my car, a fresh bag of bagels on the seat next to me.

More impressive still, the bagels were (and still are, as I write this) delicious. They’re chewy, flavorful and have just enough char on them from the oven so you know you’re eating something unique and freshly cooked. Toasted and spread with fluffy cream cheese, these bagels warm a cold morning quickly.

I am among those people who lamented the closing of the original Rover Bagel on Elm Street in Biddeford in 2019 and was pleased when owners Kim and Alec Rutter announced their decision to reopen for takeout only. Brilliant decision, in my opinion. The location in North Dam Building 10 is convenient for parking, making takeout hassle free.

Rover Bagel has newly reopened in Biddeford.

Apparently, I am not the only one who agrees. I observed the business for about 10 minutes after I picked up my order and noted a steady stream of people driving into the lot, parking quickly, running up to the window, grabbing their food and leaving. During the busiest of those moments, there was a small backup of three or four people as they briefly waited their turn to pick up their food.

The dozen bagels ($20) come as an assortment in a big brown bag, with three everything bagels, two sesame, two sea salt, three plain, and one each of anadama and cranadama.

Chicken salad on a plain bagel, from Rover Bagel.

My wife ordered a BLT with kewpie mayo on an everything bagel ($8.50), which she liked very much for both its freshness and flavor. I opted for chicken salad, served with sprouts and greens, on a plain bagel ($9). I only ate half, because I didn’t love the flavoring of the chicken salad. I wished I had tried a different sandwich, but that did nothing to diminish my enthusiasm for the bagels or the overall experience.

My wife was initially upset I spent $20 on a dozen bagels. She had never experienced a Rover bagel before and was, perhaps, predisposed to disliking it based on cost alone. But she loved these bagels, and the day after admonishing me for buying them, she pronounced them worth every dollar – and said I could quote her. She also said I’d be going back for more.

I should note, we live in Berwick.

I’m not a bagel connoisseur, but I lived in New York for a year; I have standards. I am willing to drive 45 minutes for a good bagel. And that is why I appreciate the efficiency of Rover Bagel. They’ve designed a website that is straightforward, simple and easy to use, and they delivered precisely what they promised at precisely when they said they would.

There was no human interaction, other than at the pick-up window, where masks are required. If not for the pandemic, I am all in favor of human interaction, and certainly do not want to live in world where we all operate in private pods. But I am also a big fan of efficiency, and Rover Bagel has come up with a plan to outlast the pandemic.


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