Robert Werk grew up in Ontario, Canada, and still recalls enjoying the Montreal-style bagels cooked there in wood-fired ovens with honey-flavored water to make thinner, sweeter and more dense bagels than the more common New York-style bagels sold in most of America.
So when Werk and a pair of others from Stir restaurant decided last fall to leave the Square One restaurant chain and start their own eatery on the Southside, they decided to bring the Montreal-style bagels to Chattanooga along with wood-fired, match-from-scratch pizzas and other deli items.
The new restaurant, known as Honey Seed, will open by December in the former Grant's Auto Glass at 1705 Market St.
Honey Seed will feature an open kitchen and dining room with 75 seats in the indoor dining room and another 65 in an outdoor patio. The bagels and pizza will be cooked from made-from-scratch items, and patrons will be able to watch their food being prepared in giant 8-foot-by-8-foot ovens.
"This will be a truly unique restaurant that we think will have a widespread appeal," Werk said during a tour of the restaurant site as work continues toward a December opening. "We'll have a full bar and both a breakfast and dinner menu, and we love the location here on the growing Southside."
The upscale, fast-casual restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day serving breakfast and brunch all day (until 9 p.m.) and wood-fired pizzas after 4 p.m.
Honey Seed's bagels are authentically made just as they have been for generations in Montreal, where Werk and Honey Seed's head chef, Erik Wood, went to study this summer. Montreal-style bagels are hand-rolled, honey-boiled, seeded and then placed on wood planks into the oven, right in front of the guests.
"But we are much more than a bagel shop," Werk said.
Honey Seed also will offer a full brunch menu, bagel sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, paninis, fresh-made salads and a large variety of vegetarian and vegan options.
The pizza dough is made with the finest milled flour, and San Marzano tomatoes are used for the pizza sauce. Both the bagels and the pizza are baked in a wood-fired oven.
Werk said the bagel sandwiches will range from $7 to $12 each, and paninis will sell for $10 or $11. A 14-inch pizza, which is made from special flours and made-from-scratch ingredients, will be in the $18-$20 price range.
Werk, who is now president of Honey Hospitality, is the former chief operating officer of Chattanooga-based Craftworks Restaurants & Breweries and Square One, owners of Stir and State of Confusion, and he brought with him the former general manager of The Stir, Don Lyle, who has 38 years experience in the restaurant business, and Wood, who was previously executive chef at Ruth's Chris, Big River and the Lookout Mountain Club.
"I couldn't be more excited to develop a new restaurant team with a passion for creating exceptional guest experiences, with the highest quality service in a great atmosphere with an amazing menu and beverage offerings," Lyle said in an announcement of the new restaurant. "The culture we create sustains our employees and carries over to our guests, and it's very rewarding. Chattanooga is absolutely going to love Honey Seed!"
The restaurant will be hiring about 55 new employees and has started lining up staff. Bakers, line cooks, bartenders, baristas, cashiers and server assistants will be needed. Those interested in a position can get additional information at bit.ly/HoneySeed.
The hiring and grand opening schedule for Honey Seed has been pushed back by delays in the delivery of the heating and air conditioning unit for the new eatery, which has been delayed four different times, Werk said.