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I will travel for a good bagel. The baked good practically flows through my bloodstream. Growing up in Houston, we had options; however, it’s an item scarcely found in The Natural State. So, when I heard about Ozark Mountain Bagel Co. in Bentonville, well, I just knew our paths would cross sooner rather than later. Ozark’s first location, a stone’s throw from the town square, is owned by Bill and Sheila Ford.
This is a true bagel shop, with baskets of merchandise staring you down upon entry.
“We definitely wanted it to be welcoming and comfortable, but also have the look and feel of a big city bagel shop. We love building relationships with our customers, so having a space that reflects that is very important to us. We think the ‘Love Your Neighbor’ theme as well as using inspirational quotes help reflect this as well,” says Bill Ford.
Make no mistake, while the bagels are the best I’ve eaten in this state, the service is just as good. The attentive staff is eager to get your order rolling.
“It is the most important thing in our opinion. We strive to have great bagels and delicious food, but without customers being the top priority, even the best food doesn’t taste as good. When we hire our employees, we challenge them and set an expectation that they will love on our customers as well,” says Ford.
And that they do, but fantastic service aside, Ozark serves a mean bagel. That includes 20 different varieties, including wheat, honey oat, everything, French toast, asiago, garlic and chocolate chip. Pair each one with a cream cheese flavor of your choice. There are 18 of those. While I’m generally one to mix things up a bit, I stuck with the plain cream cheese on my onion bagel sandwich. It came with smoked salmon, red onion, capers, tomato and avocado. There are other sandwiches as well, like the bacon, egg and cheese, highlighted by stacked slices of the thinnest, crispiest fried pork imaginable.
As for the bagels themselves? They are properly boiled then baked, giving the final product that unmistakable chewiness with a slightly crisp exterior. They are legit.
“The Everything bagel is definitely the most popular, with plain, asiago, and French toast not far behind. On mornings that we have a lot of runners, the salt bagel is very popular. Customers are very passionate about their bagels and since we can run out of flavors pretty quickly on busy days, they have learned to call ahead so that we can save their favorite bagel for them,” says Ford.
Smart move. And fortunately for Northwest Arkansas, Ozark Mountain Bagel Co. has multiple locations.
“We have two locations in Bentonville right now and a food truck in Fayetteville will open in the next couple of weeks. We have also signed a letter of intent for a downtown Springdale location. We are looking to move our dough running and baking to a centralized location so that we can keep up with our bagel demand,” says Ford. He continues, “What does the future hold beyond that? We’re not exactly sure, but we’d love to eventually leave our business in the hands of people that will serve, invest in others, and seek to have a darn good time doing it. We truly feel we receive way more than we ever give. We’d love that community aspect to grow and flourish in a way that blesses many long after we have stepped away.”
Cheers to that!
Ozark Mountain Bagel Co.
214 SE Walton Ave., Suite 14 (Bentonville)
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 7 a.m.-1 p.m.; Closed Monday
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