Tiffany Lopes stands for a portrait in front Sunrise Bagel on Water Street in the South End of Waterville on Wednesday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Tiffany Lopes heard the message loud and clear.

“Enough thinking about it,” said her daughter, Katie Lopes. “It’s time to do it.”

And that was all she needed to hear.

Tiffany Lopes, 53, is getting ready to open Sunrise Bagel on Water Street in the South End. Waterville’s only locally produced bagel spot is scheduled to open in the middle of June.

“Coming out of the darkness of a really horrible year, it’s the whole idea of the sun rising and digging into a life project that was starting my own business someday,” Lopes said. “It’s making the dream a reality.”

Located in a building neighboring the seasonal Pete’s Pig Catering and Barbecue and across the street from the Hathaway Creative Center parking lot, Sunrise Bagel gets its name from a mid-winter morning visit Lopes made to the site. She gazed at the sun rising above the Kennebec River over Waterville and Winslow, immediately thinking her bagel shop’s name could mirror the stunning morning scenery.

Lopes originally wanted to open up on Main Street as Downtown Bagel, but rent prices proved prohibitive. The 1,100-square-foot location on Water Street fit the bill.

“I was just about to go on Main Street and was nervous,” Lopes said, seated on a curb outside the storefront. “I checked commercial real estate, which wasn’t something I thought of doing, but this building was here. It was sort of meant to be.”

As electricians, painters and contractors roll through the glass doors on a bright and sunny April day, the revamp is in full swing. Remnants of a green sign reading “MRC” — soon to be removed — bring back memories of the former Maine Reptile Center. Built in 1985, the space has housed multiple cafes and a pizza shop. The building’s been dormant for a few years, but the “Coming Soon” sign is promising.

Soon, the place will spring to life with the aroma of fresh bagels, perhaps Lopes’ favorite, rosemary olive with Maldon sea salt.

With “wildly supportive” encouragement from her three children, ages 22-26, and husband, Dr. Joseph Lopes, Tiffany Lopes went forward with her business. The conversation with Katie Lopes sealed the deal. Now is the time, as the family has called Waterville home for two decades.

“It’s been a dream, and I’m just really glad she’s going ahead with this,” Joseph Lopes said.

An ardent supporter of Bagel Mainea in Augusta, Lopes brings her own flair to Sunrise Bagel. For more than a dozen years she’s been gluten intolerant, but discovered she could eat breads made with quality ingredients fermented over time. Lopes and her family often buy bread from Universal Bread on Temple Street in Waterville. There she discovered she could eat some bread and will opt for sourdough bagels made with locally sourced ingredients at the new business.

A stay-at-home mother and yoga teacher, Lopes grew up near the Catskill Mountain range in New York. She started baking bagels casually two years ago, and tapped into her network for support starting her business.

“The older you get, the more nostalgic you become,” Lopes said. “You start to think about foods from your childhood and miss them, and I don’t want to be in New York. I love Maine. I wanted to bring a local bagel hub to our town.”

Last fall, Lopes spent a week with high school friend Darin Kunis “interning” to learn the tricks of the bagel trade at his Orange County Bagel Bakery in New York.

Friends since elementary school, Lopes and Kunis spent the better part of a week together at his business. What was initially planned out as a couple days extended into a longer visit, with Lopes going in late at night and early in the morning. Lopes got a crash-course on bagel baking, serving and cleaning.

“Whatever Tiffany wants to do, Tiffany will be wildly successful,” Kunis said. “She’s very into it. She will do everything she can to make a successful bagel business up there.”

Lopes bought the Sunrise Bagel building in February and  immediately hired a social media specialist. Sunrise Bagel is off to a popular start with more than 1,300 followers on Facebook and an Instagram account. Online excitement is palpable. Many responded to a poll for bagel and cream cheese flavors. Everything bagels won out. Olive, scallion and vegan cream cheeses tied for the top spot in the poll.

A-tisket A-tasket we have a bagel basket ????

Happy Friday everyone! We just had to share a photo of the bagels that were…

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Lopes is also working with Beth George, a bagel consultant. A former Maine resident herself and graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, George now resides in Englewood, New Jersey, and runs BYOB Bagels consulting business.

Sunrise Bagel’s daily menu will include a rotation of flavors. With at least a dozen to choose from every morning, there’ll be something for all palates.

“Bagels are for everybody,” Lopes said. “Who doesn’t love a good bagel?”

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