Bagel shops are as integral to New York breakfast and brunch as pizzerias are to NY lunch and dinner. So how is it that Shelter Island went without a bagel shop until this month? The Eccentric Bagel owners Amy and Darryn Weinstein wondered the same thing, until they decided to do something about it.
Amy Weinstein, founder/CEO of Smash Entertainment and now co-founder/CMO of The Eccentric Bagel, recalls Lower East Side native Darryn’s dismay when he was unable to find bagels up to his standards during weekends at their Shelter Island home. “He would say to me, ‘We need a bagel store!’ And I’d say, ‘Just do it,’” Weinstein shares. “Then he came to me one day and said, ‘You know that bagel store you keep telling me just to do?’”
After seven years of weekending on an island with no bagel shop, Darryn was ready to shift gears from his high-end luxury travel business of 30 years to bagels — Eccentric Bagels. The name was chosen based on Darryn’s nickname, the “eccentric millionaire” among Shelter Islanders, a term seemingly derived from his carefree nature. “I’d get out of my Porsche, and he’d be wearing sweatpants, sweatshirt and nothing would match — that kind of thing — so they called him eccentric,” she says, adding that while fun, it’s not the most accurate description. “We thought it was really funny because we’re not that kind of person.”
Nevertheless, the nickname and store name stuck, so the branding had to follow suit. The logo features a charming cartoon version of Darryn riding a bagel, and the store’s design by Ricky “Teevee” Saetta is whimsical and out-of-the-box. Amy adds that after discovering the Orient-based designer on Instagram, working together was a dream. “He was thrilled to have the ability to really get as creative as he wanted. I told him, ‘Don’t hold off. Do whatever you have to do.’ And we really clicked,” she says.
Amy and Darryn Weinstein are another dream team working together for the first time in this capacity, each tasked with managing one side of the business. Amy is in charge of the front end: merchandising, design, social media and the like, while Darryn manages the backend tasks of staffing, ordering, cooking and preparing the bagels every day at 4 a.m. “We really have our own separate identities, or hats, in the business,” she adds.
When The Eccentric Bagel opened on April 9, it wasn’t widely advertised as a grand opening, but grand it was, as often happens when something new and exciting comes to Shelter Island. Weinstein reports long lines out the door, 4,000 bagels sold and bagel dogs selling out five minutes after putting them on display.
“We had no idea it was really something that was SUCH a need, but it’s unbelievable how everybody is so excited, like their prayers have finally been answered,” she says, noting that serving bagels made fresh on Shelter Island is apparently a game changer. “Everyone walks in with a huge smile.”
As one might expect from a business called “The Eccentric Bagel,” the store offers much more than classic bagel options — the current most popular unique flavor being the za’atar made with olive oil and sesame seeds, though jalapeño-cheddar is a close second. Deli meats, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, cream cheese and other options to top your bagel are available, as are Hebrew National hotdogs wrapped in dough, aka bagel dogs.
“Darryn has been very creative and coming up with a lot of different things, so we’re kind of right now testing out different flavors,” Weinstein explains. “We’ll do a couple of different things every day and see what the customers say about it. Then we’re going to iron out what we’re going to give on a weekly basis, and we’re always going to have something different.”
Limited-edition bagel dog flavors have included sriracha-blue cheese, provolone cheese, and bacon-wrapped. Once they’re gone, there’s no telling when or if they’ll be back, so it pays to keep up with the shop’s Instagram stories @eccentricbagel or to be a regular local customer. The store even offers branded coffee tumblers for $24 that once purchased, “you can come back as many times as you want, forever, and get hot coffee or hot tea for a dollar,” Wesintein says, “which the locals have been loving.”
Birthed from a need that Shelter Islanders couldn’t fill, The Eccentric Bagel also offers other snacks and products from companies previously unavailable on Shelter Island. These include The Hampton Grocer, Seed + Mill, New York Shuk, exclusive to-go salads, candy, sweets from The Treatery and suntan lotions. Locals and visitors on a budget can easily assemble a meal for $10 or less — a small feat that’s rapidly getting more difficult to achieve.
“We love (Shelter) Island, and we’re really thrilled that we’re actually giving them something that they’ve wanted for so many years, and they have now, and that we’re able to be at a price that everyone is able to afford, which has been a problem on the island,” Weinstein says.
The Eccentric Bagel is open Tuesday through Sunday, 7 a.m.—3 p.m., at 25 West Neck Road, Shelter Island. Visit facebook.com/TheEccentricBagel and eccentricbagel.com for more info.