Austin’s bagel sphere is getting bigger with the addition of newcomer Nervous Charlie’s, which will open up in the North Loop area on 5501 North Lamar Boulevard sometime in May. The counter-service shop boasts of New York-style bagels made with dough shipped straight from the East Coast city.
“Bagels in Austin are having momentum,” said co-owner Chris Cunningham said. While he and his wife and partner Ali White acknowledged that there are strong bagel offerings in the city, “I don’t think there is a space in Austin that has accurately captured that New York bagel vibe that we have grown accustomed to, and are so familiar with.” They’re hoping Nervous fulfills that space.
Co-owners Chris Cunningham and Ali White moved to Austin from New York with the intention of opening their own business. Lamenting the lack of what they deemed as quality bagels in the city, they decided to open their own shop. “Our main goal was to have super super authentic New York bagels in Austin,” Cunningham told Eater.
Nervous Charlie’s bagel flavors span from plain and poppy to multigrain and cinnamon raisin to French toast and jalapeno cheddar. Everything will be made with bagel dough shipped from New York City by some fancy freezer contraption.Ovens were custom-built in Long Island (where Cunningham is from).
While the dough comes from New York City, Cunningham’s bagel expertise comes from his uncle, a former New York City police officer who moved to Tennessee and opened his own shop, Bagel Exchange. Cunningham is even paying his uncle a visit next month to learn more about his process.
Nervous’ Cream cheeses range from the usual (plain, vegetable, scallion, strawberry) to unusual (pistachio, bacon scallion, maple walnut). The schmears will be made in-house. Plus there will be lox sourced from Austin.
For heartier meals, Nervous will also offer bagel sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. Ingredients will include with sliced meats from New York deli staple Boar’s Head, chicken from Redbird Chicken, eggs, cheese, potatoes, pastrami hash, and more. There are plans for a salad bar too.
Nervous originally sought out to offer coffee from Summer Moon (Cunningham thinks the cafe “makes the best coffee”) but instead, they’ll offer coffee from a different local cafe. Future plans include beer taps.
The space is meant to feel like a New York bagel shop, with an open kitchen. As this is Austin, it will include space for music.
The bagel shop is named for their dog Charlie, who is “nervous but always happy.” They expect to put up a photo wall of customers’ pets dubbed “Charlie’s Pals.” They helped raise the money for Nervous through fashion designer Tory Burch’s foundation for women entrepreneurs.
Cunningham and White are also charity-minded. White will bake cookies every Friday for suggested donations, which will be given to local pet foundations and shelters.
The couple’s goal is to open additional locations of Nervous Charlie’s that focus on music, booze, and music. “Think of the Parish downtown, but they serve delicious bagels during the day,” Cunningham explained.
Austin bagel shops include Rosen’s Bagel Co. at Wright Bros. Brew & Brew and Cosmic Coffee/LeRoy & Lewis, with the latter location boasting of brisket cream cheese (owner Tom Rosen still plans on opening a brick-and-mortar eventually), Biderman’s Deli, Pitchfork Pretty’s breakfast and brunch, Wholy Bagel, and Rock Star Bagel.
This article has been updated to reflect the new projected opening month, where Nervous got its bagel recipe from, and future coffee providers.