It was a little more than a year ago that Joan Kanner, along with wife and fellow New Jersey-born transplant Michelle Bond, began operating Bottoms Up Bagels as a nomadic catering service throughout the Baltimore area.
The wife-and-wife team specializes in everything from fresh hand-rolled bagels to classic shmears (as well as their own signature creations such as house-cured lox cream cheese and house-smoked jalapeno cream cheese) to their “Kick Ass Salmon Lox” (as listed on their menu), cured in-house with salt, sugar, peppercorns, fresh parsley, dill and lemon zest.
Their bagels have popped up at such locations as the Waverly Holiday Market, Federal Hill’s Pixilated and Harbor Market. Bottoms Up also has eight wholesale partners through such establishments as Mt. Vernon’s The Room, Catonsville’s Rooster + Hen Store and, only just this past week, Canton’s Fork and Wrench.
“We’re trying to get something in south Baltimore soon!” said Bond, who was followed to Baltimore by Kanner after time spent in the Peace Corps led to her accepting a Shriver Center fellowship at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Bond received her master’s in intercultural communication, a field of study that has long interested her as a social activist and savvy entrepreneur.
“Our pop-up in the Lexington Market was very different than the pop-up we did in Mt. Vernon, for example, and communication helps,” Bond said in reference to starting up and running Bottoms Up with Kanner, whom she wed in 2014.
“I come at it from a community development aspect,” Bond continued, “and food has always been part of this exchange: coordinating and making it happen, working with the different cafes and business owners, setting things up that will not only be efficient but fun. It’s about making people feel part of the process.”
Bond went on to say that she sees the work she does schmoozing with the business owners and event planners at the various locations Bottoms Up has and continues to appear at as being “more than just a transaction. It’s influenced by all these other things that are a part of who we are.”
By this she means that Kanner and she are largely propelled by the sense of kinetic innovation that comes with operating a mobile catering business and the constant adventure unfolding each day in working with and setting up at different businesses.
Aside from the practical notion that Bond and Kanner started Bottoms Up largely because they felt Baltimore lacked the kind of traditional style bagels they grew up with in New Jersey and, later before coming here, New York City, this deeper aspect of who they are as people greatly inspired and continues to inspire their growing enterprise.
“For us, it’s really about everything we’re talking about here: the cultural association and experience of our childhood,” Bond said.
“We were both raised in different parts of Jersey; [Kanner’s] had more of a Jewish influence and mine had more of an Italian influence … but there were always bagels everywhere.
“In that very simple, accessible food — whether you’re going to a business meeting or working at a construction site down the street — bagels can be there for everyone. And we want to be a part of that in Baltimore.”