I'm a popular girl in my office. Since I eat for a living, I share a lot of leftovers. But now my colleagues have a new reason:
I bring the good bagels.
Poppy's Bagels opened in Providence Plaza on Providence Road near Sharon Amity in mid-November. Way to locate: If you drive uptown on Providence with the morning herd, you know that intersection is like the stocked fishing stream of office workers.
The first time I stopped in, Poppy's felt familiar. It's like the little bagel shops all over New York. They decorate the bowls of cream cheese with flower designs, they have whitefish salad, and the cooler is stocked with Dr. Brown's. And the bagels are right, with that shiny, crackly crust and chewy interior.
Ronnie Rippner grew up on Long Island and lived all over Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn before he moved down here four years ago for all the reasons most people from the Northeast head South: Lower taxes, bigger houses for the money. Like a lot of people, he used to be in banking. To learn the bagel business, he found a guy in New York to teach him the ropes.
They make the bagels on the premises, including boiling and baking. Back when Charlotte didn't have real bagels (yes, I'm old enough to remember it well), people used to say you couldn't make New York bagels here because the water isn't the same. Rippner heard that, too, but says it hasn't turned out to be the case. The tangy cream cheese has been particularly popular at my office. They get it from a wholesaler, but they mix their own flavors.
One more thing Poppy's has that keeps me stopping in: Rippner's mother, Georgeanna. A native of Hungary, she came down from New York to open the shop. She spots the regulars quickly and chats with everybody. It's like stopping by 28th Street for portable breakfast while I'm driving to Stonewall and Tryon.