Miya and Pete McGowan, owners of The Dolgeville Bread Basket. Photo by Carol Vogel
by Carol Vogel
When you walk into The Dolgeville Bread Basket, you quickly realize it’s the quintessential small-town Mom and Pop bread shop. Pete and Miya McGowan have been baking delicious artisan bread and bagels in addition to their takeout breakfast and lunch menus here for two years.
Before they opened in July of 2020, they had been making bread at home. Soon, they were making all sorts of rolls and bagels. “He has a knack for making bread!” Miya says of her husband Pete. Baking bread came naturally to Pete. “When I was a kid, my Mom would make all her bread. We didn’t buy bread. We were used to having freshly baked bread, whereas people today don’t have time to do it from scratch. She didn’t measure so there was no recipe, so I taught myself.”
After a while, they began selling sub rolls, dinner rolls, and bagels to a local restaurant, Brix, on North Main Street. The response was overwhelmingly positive. “Teddy Miller, the owner of Brix, said we should try opening a shop. Then we started selling at the Dolgeville Farmer’s Market. That’s how we got started” says Miya.
Some famous Bread Basket Bagels. Photo by Carol Vogel. Once the word got out, other local restaurants (Nick Stoner Inn, Green Acres, Arthur’s, and Ann Street Deli to name a few) began purchasing bread, rolls, and bagels. The store was a highly anticipated addition to the main street of Dolgeville and customers made the trip from Johnstown, Whitesboro, and even Rome. And the buzz has spread even farther.
A customer said she was in New York City and was talking about where to get the best bagels when someone who lived in Manhattan said ‘Do you know where the best bagels are? Dolgeville NY!’ “That blew my mind” laughs Pete. “Someone in NYC said that? We thought ‘WOW!’ that’s quite a compliment”. Another customer from Long Island also told them their bagels were the best they’ve had.
Then, there are the artisan loaves they make. “Nobody does the artisan bread. It’s a unique thing around here” Miya says. When I asked the McGowans how they come up with new bread they both say their customers have been a big influence. Miya says customers will come in and ask about certain flavors. “They’ll ask ‘Do you make this bread?’ and we say ‘No, but we can try it!’” Their most popular artisan loaves, such as the Jalapeno Cheddar, 4 Cheese, and Cranberry Walnut, were all ideas from customers.
When asked what makes their bread special both Pete and Miya immediately comment “It’s because it’s fresh-made and hand-made. We don’t put any additives in it”. Pete adds “Our key is, it’s fresh. The flavor difference in ours is because it’s made fresh that day.”
The Bread Basket makes other types of bread such as dinner rolls, sub, hamburgers, and hot dog rolls and they have a takeout menu for both breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, Pete created a bagel sandwich that is unique from any other bagel sandwich out there – the egg, meat, and cheese are on the inside – which means a fully contained sandwich with no spillage!
For lunch, they offer daily soups, subs, sandwiches, and Paninis “People love our Reuben paninis!” Pete smiles. “If you’ve got a sandwich that’s messy and runs down your face… that’s a good sandwich right there!” Pete was surprised at the feedback on another area staple – Tomato Pie. “I had never made those and we have people telling us they’re as good as Utica!” Their new flatbread pizzas are also a popular item for lunch. TIP: Calling to order ahead is encouraged especially for lunch. By 11:30 am the lunch rush begins and “It gets crazy!” Pete laughs.
While most of their offerings are savory, there are a few sweet treats you can find here. Fresh out-of-the-oven cinnamon buns are a customer favorite, and they also carry sweet bread like chocolate chip and cinnamon or chocolate-filled ring bread. Specialty bread like their Cheesy Ham Bread, Speckroush (bacon-filled dinner rolls), or Cheese and Sausage bread is available for pre-order. You’ll find something for everyone in this small home-style bread shop!
Their bakery space is open and welcoming with small-town charm. Pete enjoys cooking and interacting with customers from the kitchen. People ask him questions and can see him in action. Miya runs the front register and helps in the kitchen making sandwiches and getting soup orders – especially during the lunch rush.
Pete says “I like to look at it as you’re going back to what I remember when I was younger. We have a screen door that slams shut like Anytown, USA. When you go into the store we are keeping that feeling and service alive.” Shaking her head in agreement Miya comments “We make the food the way we would want it. Like we are at home cooking for our family.” “That’s why it’s called a Mom & Pop Shop!” Pete adds. “Our customers are really great – they’re good folks.”
Their pace is relaxed and they’re incredibly warm and friendly. They like to get to know their customers. It’s that small-town feeling – something customers go back for time and time again. Miya remarks “The important thing for us is treating the customers well. We try to learn everyone’s names making customers feel like part of the store – like it was back in the day.” She recalls a customer who walked in and told her “When we come in here I feel like I’m home”
Pete and Miya are genuine and hardworking. Pete starts at 1:30 am to bake fresh bread daily and the duo works side by side. “We’re doing what we want to do and making a living,” Pete says. “The nicest thing about something like this is – we like being part of the community. I love hearing ‘We’re so glad you’re here’ or ‘we love your food’. My favorite part is when someone new comes in. They look around and they find the Cranberry Walnut Bread they wanted and they say ‘it’s there!’ and their eyes light up. That’s the best part of making bread! Making people happy.”
Life-long residents of Dolgeville and married for 22 years, they have been working together as a team for over 12. They worked first as contractors and now they are baking bread. When I say they are seasoned entrepreneurs, Pete stops me -“Nah! That sounds too fancy. We’re just two people that opened a bread shop!”
You can find the Dolgeville Bread Basket’s full menu and weekly specials on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/dolgevillebreadbasket/)
You can also vote for The Dolgeville Bread Basket in the Undisputed Excellence Awards in the “Food/Best Bagels” category. Voting starts July 1st and the awards acknowledge the hard work and dedication of local Mohawk Valley businesses (https://undisputedexcellence.com/top-5/).