The Bagel Mill’s freshly ground flour and East Coast-style in Petaluma
When The Bagel Mill opened on July 3, it immediately sold out. Clearly, Petaluma was craving carbs.
Because quality bagel-making takes days of prep, even after adjusting for the bigger-than-expected crowds, it took a few days before bagels stayed in the rack passed the mid-morning rush. But still, social media was all abuzz with praise, everyone understanding that quality does not come easy.
Glenda Dougherty (yes, that is her real and apropos last name), grew up in Sebastopol. She baked with her mother but it was college where she first tried her hand at it professionally. Her brother is a surfer and owns Northern Lights surf shop in Bodega Bay and was friends with the surfer/owner of Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery in Duncan Mills, which helped Glenda get her first job baking.
After graduating from NYU, she worked at a startup before following her heart back to baking. She was hired at Milk Bar in New York City, which is a chain of bakery and dessert restaurants started by Christina Tosi, co-host of “MasterChef” and “MasterChef Junior,” and inventor of trademarked delicacies Cereal Milk, Compost Cookies, Crack Pie and Candy Bar Pie. Dougherty helped bake Milk Bar cookies for the holidays.
Even though Dougherty had no formal culinary training, a celebrity-owned business on her resume helped her get a foot in the door of fine dining restaurants. She started at Battersby in Brooklyn before moving back to the Bay Area to be closer to family.
She worked at Game, the restaurant that earned Michelin-star status shortly before closing up its Union Square location.
Dougherty next became a pastry chef at Bourbon Steak at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, founded by award-winning Chef Michael Mina. But Sonoma County called her home, and she moved back to Sebastopol to start Red Dog Bakery with her childhood friend Emily Schuster.
“I had become burned out and a bit discouraged,” Dougherty said. “So many restaurants claim to be farm-to-table but in the end weren’t. They will highlight one ingredient of quality, but the rest are straight off a big food supply truck. I wanted to do something different and truly concentrate on local ingredients, even if it cost more.”
They started Red Dog in 2017 out of a commercial kitchen on Lakeville, which was shared between local favorites like the Bodega food truck, Teri Velasco Catering, Awesome Bars, Bert’s Desserts and Golden State Pickleworks. “Being around all those talented people was inspirational,” said Dougherty.
But using top quality ingredients comes at a higher price, which is why she pays attention to all her costs. “I have to be honest about pricing. And if customers aren’t interested, than maybe we discontinue that particular product.”
Red Dog split its business between farmers markets and wholesale, supplying places like SHED with bagels and The Shuckery with desserts. “Jaz and I both went to Analy,” said Dougherty about the owner of The Shuckery and their shared Sebastopol high school.
These kind of connections help explain why Dougherty chose downtown Petaluma for The Bagel Mill. “I live here and wanted to open a shop that would add to the community,” she said.
I met Dougherty for our initial interview in the early morning hours, before the sun began to peak over the horizon. The fog still lay think over the city and when all the other nearby establishments were still black, The Bagel Mill’s lights shone brightly on the street.