Editor's Note: Our Sunday restaurant feature "Dining in Douglas" this week spotlights Bagel Meister, which opened in 2007 on Chapel Hill Road in Douglasville.
The bagel shop shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking it is a typical coffee and breakfast joint because it isn’t. The immediate comfort of the homey décor soothes customers when they first walk in.
“We wanted you to walk in here and not feel overwhelmed with brightness and color,” said owner Dean Reimers. “We want you to be calm.”
The tan walls, black and white photos and mixed array of booths, tables and high top tables compliment each other. Customers can choose to sit at black chairs and booths or tan wooden tables and stools. Two long black tables line one wall for large groups. A couple of tables sit in front of the shop for an outside bite.
One special detail about the large black and white photos that line the walls are that Dean, his wife Diane, and various members of their families are Photoshopped into the pictures. For example, a grainy picture of a shop in old time New York has a younger Dean’s face placed in it. Two pictures feature Diane and Dean’s families while yet another has a 3-year-old Diane in the background.
“We make it about our families because our families are not here,” said Diane. “When we come to work now, we see our families here.”
The comfort and familiarity doesn’t stop there. Once a customer places their order, the staff calls out their name to make it more personal instead of a number or the order itself.
“We can focus more on customers and make sure things are correct,” said Dean. “We are here to serve the community.”
An open display case loaded with bagels, pastries and bread provide a clear choice for customers. They can also watch their food being prepared at an open center behind the counter for complete transparency.
“I want you to see your sandwich made,” explained Dean. “That is why everything is open back there. I don’t want [the staff] hidden behind a wall so you couldn’t see what’s going on. I want everything open and honest.”
The openness, familiarity and personal connection to customers has made Bagel Meister more than a coffee and bagel shop; it’s a unique place for each customer’s experience.
Before owning Bagel Meister, Dean worked at several restaurants but was frustrated with his lack of power in making sure every single customer was satisfied.
“When you develop relationships with customers, these people fall in love with you, you fall in love with them, but really, they’re not your customers,” said Dean. “They’re [someone else’s] customers. It was heartbreaking to know that I couldn’t go a little bit further to please them if something is wrong or if somebody is having an issue or if somebody wants to speak with the owner or manager. We are right here. We can talk to them.”
Dean and his wife Diane enjoy being a part of people’s lives and getting to know them.
“That we are able to impact people — we are so thankful that we are able to,” said Diane. “A lot of people we know, you see them and you see their family grow up. You get to know people and you get to know their lives.”
“It’s such a blessing for us to be able to be such a part of someone’s life,” said Dean. “It is not just about us. We understand that if God is going to bless us, then we have to be a blessing as well.”
As if to make a point, the Reimers’ pastor D.J. Hill from Atlanta West Pentecostal Church stopped by during the interview to say hello to his friends.
“I come here a few times a week,” said Hill. “I love this place. They were great people. It is very clean with great food. They are very good to customers.”
The Reimers' connection with customers goes above and beyond that, though. Dean shared stories on how women who were in labor would stop by for a bagel before going to the hospital or how customers would bring by family who were visiting to introduce them to the owners.
"As an owner of a store, we get to enjoy watching the customers grow up and be a part of their life," said Dean. "Our customers have been wonderful, just amazing. That's the kind of clientele that we have built and it's incredible. We have new people finding us everyday. I'm very thankful."
Bagel Meister does more than bagels: its menu is filled with sandwiches, soups and salads to provide more options for its customers.
“I want somebody to come in here and have the options of not just a sandwich,” said Dean. “Of the array of things you have, you can build your own salad or your own sandwich.”
The menu features tons of flavors and bold tastes that Dean feels compliments the food.
“I am from Miami, and I wanted the flavors that I couldn’t find here,” explained Dean. “The products are products that I love and that I feel are good. Our coffee is a Swedish coffee called Douwe Egberts. It’s a little bit stronger and I wanted something that compliments the bagel. I like bolder, stronger flavors and that is what we have been.”
Bagels with various spreads, pastries, including muffins, cinnamon rolls and croissants, and an array of chocolates and sweets are available for selection. The bagels’ dough is mixed in New Jersey but once it is shipped down, the Reimers do the rest. Almost everything is handmade and created inside the shop.
While Dean is in charge of the more savory side of the menu, Diane covers the sweets. She creates candied apples, chocolate covered pretzels and Oreos and much more.
“I do all the chocolate,” said Diane. “It was experimental at first. You have to taste it and make sure it is OK or not. I use a Belgian chocolate called Callebaut because American chocolate is not good; it’s too sweet, too sugary. I don’t care for it.”
The Reimers specifically choose healthier options for all their food items.
“A lot of what Georgia is is biscuit and gravy and grease and fat and fried,” said Dean. “We don’t do any of that. We don’t have fryers. We don’t have any grills. All of our meats are Boar’s Head, all natural meats. We use organic produce from local farmers when we can. It’s a clean menu.”
Dean’s healthy options go back to his frustration with corporations and chains.
“”Other restaurants are using all kinds of chemicals and things in their food and we don’t; we just don’t do that,” explained Dean. “The good thing about us is we are not a corporation; it is my wife and I. We can do anything that we want to do. We can make quiche tomorrow if we want. We don’t have to abide by company rules. We can do many things and we have done many things.”
One of the most flexible aspects of Bagel Meister is their ability to cater to large parties and evolve their menu to benefit the customer.
“We had some catering things that we did where they didn’t want bagels,” explained Dean. “When you come to me and you are doing something and you need some help or ideas, that’s where we come in. We are not here to be a dictator and tell you how it is going to be. If I have it, I can do it.”
While Bagel Meister does cater and deliver orders, they ask that the order be a minimum of $150.
Overall, the married couple of 27 years enjoys being able to work together and create food together.
"We work together, and not many husbands and wives can work together," said Dean.
"I have got my own little chocolate area where I do the chocolates and all the different treats," said Diane. "My husband is an excellent baker."
Open Since: 2007
Owner: Dean Reimers
Location: 2750 Chapel Hill Road, Douglasville, GA 30135
Hours: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Phone Number: 770-577-2010