Chester Bagel, the Best Local Bagel Spot?

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Me and my boys, doing our thing!

Kiril Hadjipetkov, Staff Writer

After a long night of festivities, the morning after can be extremely rough. The groggy eyes, headache, and mild stomach pains after hours of raging can take a toll on anyone. However, there is an antidote, the special serum to help individuals such as me and you gain a newfound purpose in life. This remedy goes by the name of Chester Bagel. Eating breakfast here has similar effects to the Fountain of Youth; I’ve seen old men enter the establishment only to leave youthful and vibrant. As a weekly Chagel consumer, I decided to document this weekend’s trip in order to emulate the experience into words in the best way possible.

 

To start off, I have been a passionate bagel eater for roughly four years. My usual Chagle order is a Taylor ham egg and cheese on a plain bagel, toasted, with salt pepper and ketchup. I find this to be Chester Bagel’s star child; their greenest patch of grass. Furthermore, once I receive this bagel, I make sure to stop at the sauce station, in which I douse it with dangerous amounts of hot sauce and sometimes a tad bit of ketchup if it needs some more. I find these sauces to be half the reason I come to Chagle so much; the dressing beckons me.

Post bagel saucing, getting ready to dig in!

Another big chunk of my commitment to this establishment falls under the fact that the staff is extremely friendly- seeing the Chester Bagel team brightens my day up just as much as their bagels do! On this particular morning, I was fiending for a bagel more so than normal. It was the morning after the super bowl, and I legitimately thought I was going to either freak out or die if I didn’t get a bagel in me soon. With that being said, I headed to my safe haven and placed my order, shivering with anticipation. Sure enough, my bagel came out, steaming and resonating with comfort. I sauced it up to the max, and walked back to my table as the bagel bled with Chagel’s famous “Hot Sause” (the brand is unknown, contents derive from an off-brand bottle.) I can honestly say I had no complaints about my meal, this trip only assured me even further that while many things in life will hurt you, Chagel never gives up on you. I love you Chagel, you give my life a purpose. Aside from myself, I figured I would share this trip with two others in order to hopefully gain multiple perspectives on the concept of Bagels.

 

Meet senior TJ Gembala, a breakfast sandwich aficionado with a strong affiliation towards Chagle. I chose TJ to come with me due to a peculiar paradox; despite being an avid Chester Bagel fan, TJ does not in fact go for the bagels. His regular order is a Taylor ham egg and cheese on a roll with salt pepper and ketchup, which he has gotten for the past two years. Gembala ordered his meal and when he received it, I could feel the pure happiness radiating off of him. For the next five minutes, TJ became one with his bagel, eating it in pure bliss. I did not wish to disrupt the man from his bagel-dream so I decided to interview him once he finished. He had no complaints. Immediately, Gembala stated that he is a “dedicated Chagel customer” due to the fact that “the customer service is top notch, very high quality. They make you feel like a family member there.” When asked why he gets the order he gets, TJ responded with “A lot of people prefer the bagels at Chagel, considering it is Chester Bagel, and this is no attempt to diss my Chagel friends, but I usually get it on a roll just because i’m there for the Taylor ham and I feel like sometimes bagels can be a little too hard and crunchy, pushing the contents out to the side.” Gembala chooses Taylor Ham because a TEC (short for Taylor ham egg and cheese) is “like a breakfast burger,” bringing TJ’s favorite meal into the morning sector of the day.

Looks like we got one hungry boy over here!

“Taylor ham is the closest thing you can get to ground beef for breakfast.” Upon hearing this, concerned passerby Rhys Heraghty chimed in, shining light on the fact that Steak and Eggs exist, but Gembala shot back, claiming that it would probably be more expensive as opposed to the cheap, fast production of a singular TEC unit. Gembala strongly believes that Chagle has the best breakfast sandwiches in the Mendham/Chester area, even opposing locations such as Mendham’s Wicker Basket, which I strongly agree with due to their shoddily-made food and extremely low level of customer service. TJ goes to Chester Bagel once or twice a week. When asked how Chagle has affected his life, TJ’s response almost made me shed a tear. “It’s given me a reason to wake up earlier than noon in the morning and eat breakfast. I usually don’t eat breakfast. Shoutout to my Chagle homies, one of the guys there knows me by my face. They treat you very well, and if you are kind to them they will never let you go. Also shoutout Shane Carey, you are my best friend, you are the light of my world, you are the shining star in the darkness that is my life.” 

“It’s given me a reason to wake up earlier than noon in the morning and eat breakfast.””

— TJ Gembala

 

While TJ and I have a deep fondness for Chester Bagel and Deli, it is important to understand that there are two sides to everything. Due to this, I had senior Nick Berry accompany us on our Chagel journey, giving out his own unique opinion on the enterprise. Nick has been eating bagels since September 7th, 2001. His birthday. Being from New Jersey his entire life, Berry claims to “know a thing or two about bagels.” He lives for the groggy bagel breakfast as well as the sporadic afternoon bagel snack. Berry ordered a plain bagel toasted with cream cheese, and requested to be interviewed as he was eating his bagel. Following these accommodations, I hit start on my voice recorder as Nick took his first bite. I noticed a look of dismay as he slowly chewed on his meal, a face of regret, perhaps a mild disgust. Intrigued by this, I initially asked him if he was a big bagel fan. Berry responded with this; “Kiril, if there’s one thing I know in this world, its good food, a quality eatery. And I can tell you right now, I’m part of a small and vocal minority in this town that is not for Chester Bagel. In a town as culturally rich as Mendham, in an area full of good bagel eateries, this just doesn’t cut it.” Confused, I pressed on as to why Nick was not having a good meal. He was quick to respond. “This bagel, aesthetically it’s pleasing to me. It’s got a good selection of poppy seeds, sesame seeds and onions. But I took that bite into it, and that first bite, it’s supposed to change your life. This just does not cut it. I would recommend Time for a Bagel.

Someone’s a little angry!

The fluffiness isn’t there, the texture isn’t there. They somehow overdid and underdid the cream cheese.” Nick wished that the bagel had more of a soft and tender bite, something that would melt in his mouth. He claimed that these traits would be found at locations such as Time for a Bagel in Morris Plains, or Alfa Bagels in Randolph. “I love Time for a Bagel, that’s one of the greatest eateries ever established in this country, you know? They make the bagels in front of you, there’s fanfare in that. Here? You have to pay cash only. What is this? It’s not 1960 anymore. The future is now.” I was stupefied. Berry continued. “It’s cool, everyone’s gonna hate me. Oh, why doesn’t he like Chagel, we like Chagel. I’m okay being the villain. I stand up for what I believe in.” Despite Nick’s negative opinion towards Chester Bagel, he at least deemed it better than Mendham Bagel, another local bagel spot. As I watched Nick eat his bagel, I noticed that the cream cheese shot out of the sides, making a mess. I didn’t want to admit it, but this evidence could be used against Chagel. I questioned Berry on this and he said “You can always judge a good bagel by its cream cheese ejection ratio. This is when you take a bite of a cream cheese bagel, you can tell how well made it is if immediately all the cream cheese goes flying out the sides. I can tell you by this bagel, it might as well not have cream cheese on it. The hallmark of a badly made bagel is that everything escapes it.” Although Nick deeply despised his bagel, he did give the Chagel team props on being “liberal” with the bagel’s seeds. “You go into some of these grocery stores, and the bagels they sell might as well be plain bagels. They got nothing on them. You get one or two poppy seeds.” Seems like we can thank the boomers for that one. Finally, I dropped the capstone question and asked Berry how Chester Bagel has affected his life. “I live deep in Mendham, on the border of Morristown, so Chagles not a place I stop by often, and even if it was close, I wouldn’t come here often, I’ll give you my two cents on the issue. But, you know, Chagle seems to be a good place people like, and if they want to spend their money on an average bagel, so be it.”

“You can always judge a good bagel by its cream cheese ejection ratio.””

— Nick Berry

 

Throughout all of the facts, opinions, and arguments made throughout this article, one thing is clear. We all have that one spot, which is Chester Bagel for people like me and TJ. However, no matter what, we must respect opposing opinions from people such as Nick, whose spot is Time for a Bagel.

Whatever or wherever that one place may be, there will be lovers and there will be haters, so ultimately, I ask whoever is reading this to get themselves a Chester Bagel in order to truly see for themselves if it has what it takes to be the best!