Whether you’re enjoying a bagel in Mount Vernon, New York, or in Mount Vernon, Washington, it’s more than likely that bagel was made from scratch at Neri’s Bakery Products, Inc.
The 105-year-old company traces it’s roots back to Beech Street in Port Chester, where Paul Neri started a bakery in a small garage. After three major expansions, Neri’s now occupies 260,000 square feet—the better part of the block between Pearl and Broad Streets in Port Chester. The huge gray factory houses millions of dollars of baking equipment, including seven dough mixers (each with a 1,300-pound capacity) and four 110-foot- long tunnel ovens. The 24/7 business churns out 10 million bagels a week—consisting of 1.7 million pounds of dough—along with breads and pastries, thanks to its 270 full-time employees. Nearly 40 trailers a day (along with 10 frozen trailers a week) help ship the company’s products to establishments across 38 states, including Washington, Texas, and Maine. They also stay true to their roots, delivering fresh bagels and bread to 50 local bakeries and shops.
Step inside this massive operation with us for a guided, carb-loaded tour.
1. Even with customers streaming in and out of Neri’s retail store, you’d never guess the volume of work underway in the attached commercial bakery.
2. All dough is made from scratch and added to the mixers, along with various ingredients, and mixed until the dough is the right consistency (not too watery). When the dough is ready, workers take it out of the mixer. The dough here weighs 1,100 pounds, so it’s dumped into two carts. Workers then take the dough’s temperature to make sure it’s ready to be formed into bagels.
3. After taking the temperature, the dough is transferred to the former machine, where it’s cut into the correct shape and weight for the bagels. Each former has the capacity to make 2,500-dozen bagels an hour. A quality-control worker watches over the bagels whizzing by, collecting any “cripples”—those that are either too light or incorrectly formed.
4. After the former, the bagels are placed into a proof box, where steam and heat facilitate the fermentation process. They’re then transferred to a refrigerator to stop the fermentation process before heading to a conveyor belt, atop which the bagels move through one of the 110-foot ovens to be baked, and then (as pictured here) continue down a cooling conveyer belt to be sliced.
5. Here, a worker separates and lines up the now-sliced bagels for them to be packaged.
6. Neri’s bakes 40,000 to 50,000 dozen Kaiser rolls every single day. And they’re baked through much the same process as the bagels (the mixing, the forming, the conveyor belts through 110-foot ovens). As the rolls come out from the oven—about 400 a minute—a quality control employee keeps an eye on them, pulling out any rolls that are either over- or under-baked or misshapen.
And, as seen in the bottom photo, workers also hand-package freshly baked hero sandwich rolls.
7. Neri’s retail store accounts for roughly 3 percent of the business, serving all the freshly baked bagels and rolls. There are also pastries to be had—everything from birthday cakes to apple tarts to cannoli (above) to chocolate sugar cookies (below).