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Keeping the tradition of making bagels from scratch — in an old Block Island post office

The Old Post Office Bagel Shop on Block Island.Old Post Office Bagel Shop

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For more than two decades, Bill and Allison Brown would end their long summer morning shifts at the bagel shop, detailing by hand in coffee-stained notebooks what they sold that day.

Alongside scribbles that broke down the number and flavor of bagels and croissants customers purchased that morning, the Browns listed other key points such as ferry delays, the weather, tidal conditions, and island events that were taking place.


Some days they added comments about local characters. Other days included notes of frustration. “Surprised at the leftovers, should have sold,” read one note alongside a particular scone flavor that was crossed out.

The couple, who opened The Old Post Office Bagel Shop on Block Island 25 years ago, started the notebooks back in 2000, and recently handed them over — along with the keys and their recipes — when they sold the shop to Matt Barry, 27, and his two partners.

Longtime owners Bill and Allison Brown detailed by hand what they sold at The Old Post Office Bagel Shop on Block Island.Old Post Office Bagel Shop

It’s hard enough to run a food business on an island when estimating how many customers could be on the island on any given day is critical to your success. It’s not like you can just go to the supermarket one town over when you run out of certain ingredients. It’s a ferry ride away, and usually a slow one at that.

At the bagel shop, where everything is made from scratch, stopping in the middle of serving the long lines of customers that wrap around Ocean Avenue each summer is just not possible.

It’s around 1 a.m., when the island’s late-night stragglers are still moseying back to Victorian-era inns or farm-cottages, that Barry is just unlocking the doors to the town’s old post office to begin his day.


That’s decision time, he tells me, to figure out how much they’re baking that day.

Hours before the sun is even expected to rise, as the island’s night goes silent, Barry sits in the tiny shop that is now his and pulls out those hand-written notebooks from the Browns. He flips to find the same date from past years and checks the weather and tides. He scribbles out his own numbers, hopes for the best, and begins the day’s work.

The Block Island Bagel Shop is located at 123 Ocean Ave. in New Shoreham, Rhode Island. They are open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to noon unless they sell out earlier. Follow their Instagram for updates.

The inside of The Old Post Office Bagel Shop on Block Island.Old Post Office Bagel Shop

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.