union loafers market photo by iain shaw

Union Loafers team is opening a bagel and provisions market in Shaw in early April

The team behind Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery and Bagel Union will open a “little provisions store” selling bagels, cream cheese, a variety of salads and other products at 2232 Thurman Ave. in Shaw in early April. The as-yet unnamed market will initially open on Saturdays and Sundays, with the weekend of April 6 set as the tentative launch date.

The roughly 1,500-square-foot former gas station at the intersection of Thurman and Cleveland avenues has served as Loafers’ commissary kitchen for the past three years, and the majority of the space will still be kitchen space. “It gets used six days a week, cooking all the proteins, smoking, making all our sauces, pickling,” said co-owner Ted Wilson. “It’s our full-on kitchen, while Tower Grove Avenue is our full-on bakery.”

The idea of opening a customer-facing storefront has always been simmering in the background, and Wilson said that although he thinks the concept will evolve and take shape gradually over a number of months, now is the right time. “We're curious to see how it goes,” he said. There will be no seating inside the retail space, but Wilson said that in the summer they may add a few tables outdoors. The space also has a small parking lot, and after the initial opening period, Fiddlehead Fern’s coffee trailer will set up in the lot to serve coffee to customers at the market.

The market will sell take-home bagels and cream cheese from Bagel Union. “I felt like we needed a little outpost for bagels in the city,” Wilson said. They’ll also be selling signature Union Loafers items like the bakery’s chicken and smoked trout salads, Buttonwood Farm chicken stock and buttermilk dressing. With plans underway for a Union Loafers pastry department, Wilson said the market will eventually stock a selection of sweets.

Wilson said the market will offer a sandwich special every weekend, taking advantage of the kitchen’s grill. For the first weekend, they’re working on a New Jersey-style pork roll sandwiches with Taylor ham on a housemade Kaiser roll. Beyond that, Wilson said the sandwiches could be inspired by New York bodega sandwiches, or riffing on the building’s past by doing gas station-style sandwiches with a Loafers twist. “We’re keeping it open,” he said. “We’ve got plans for a biscuit egg sandwich, a Reuben, cheesesteaks. Nothing is off the table, but each weekend, the focus will be that sandwich – we won’t have a full-on menu, we just don’t have the space.”

Wilson added that after using the Thurman Avenue location solely as a commissary for so long, he and the team are looking forward to being able to provide a place for their Shaw neighbors to enjoy foodstuffs from Union Loafers and Bagel Union right on their doorstep. “We've been in that neighborhood for three years, and other than a few popups haven’t really gotten a chance to engage with people,” he said. “Our real goal is to respond to the neighborhood, see what the neighborhood needs and what’s a good fit.”

The market will showcase the talents of the Loafers and Bagel Union team – and Wilson said that’s not limited to food and drink. “We've got a couple of ceramicists and artists on staff, so they're going to be selling some of their stuff there,” he said. “It's going to be kind of a little hodgepodge of all of our stuff and our staff. I think it'll take us a couple months to really find our voice with it.”

The market doesn’t have a name yet, but Wilson likes the idea of riffing on the building’s legacy as a former gas station. Initially, the market will be open only on Saturdays and Sundays, but Wilson said that over time that could expand to include a few weekdays. Follow Union Loafers and Bagel Union on Instagram for updates.