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Hole in local bagel market

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 4:55 p.m. CST

CRYSTAL LAKE – It’s getting harder to find locally made bagels in McHenry County.

Great American Bagel & Caffe Luna, which opened in 1987 in Crystal Lake, closed in 2012, and Bentley’s Bagels and Brew in Algonquin closed in late 2013.

Several restaurants, shops and grocery stores sell bagels, including Einstein Bros Bagels, Panera, Dunkin’ Donuts and other chains. But few make their own from scratch. Butera, Garden Fresh and Joe Caputo & Sons, all of Algonquin, use Hometown Bagels of Alsip, which is in Cook County.

Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, the nation’s largest operator of bagel bakeries, uses dough-making plants in Whittier, Calif., and Avon, Ind. The company, which operates Einstein and Noah’s New York Bagels brands and franchises locations under the Manhattan Bagel brand, has 800 restaurants in the U.S.

Country Donuts in Crystal Lake had been selling bagels from Bentley’s for eight or nine months before Bentley’s closed, Scott Offord said.

Offord is the co-owner with Larry Swanson of Country Donuts, a 24-hour restaurant known for its doughnuts and coffee.

Offord has been experimenting with making his own bagels since Bentley’s closed, but hasn’t found the right formula yet.

“It’s not ready for sale,” he said.

Offord said most places are using par-bake bagels, which are premade and require little baking.

Offord said he would like to make everything in-house, but this week he has been focused on making paczkis for Fat Tuesday.

The cream-filled pastry is only available during the two days before Lent.

While Offord said he’s sad to see local bagel places closing shop, he’s glad his customers still choose doughnuts.

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