CEDAR RAPIDS — Bruce Ford is a history buff. He has B.A. and Masters degrees in history, and his last jobs were in writing history and social studies test questions for Iowa Testing Programs at the University of Iowa and before that at ACT.
So when he and his wife Sandy Ford decided to open their own restaurant, they chose a historic name for the business, Osgood’s. Osgood Shepherd was Cedar Rapids’ first permanent white settler; his cabin is believed to have been built near where the Tree of Five Seasons now stands.
“I’m a history guy. Being fans of history runs through my family ... It’s just always been a part of me,” Ford said. “I wanted that part of my personality to come out in the name of the business.”
Osgood’s, a bagel and salad shop, opened in the Armstrong Building food court in downtown Cedar Rapids on May 9.
The Fords opened the cafe in part as a new challenge for themselves as their youngest son prepares to head to college in the fall.
“We’re going to be empty nesters, so this is the time to do it,” Bruce Ford said. “It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for years — owning my own place. I was ready to do something on my own. I didn’t want this to be one of those ‘What ifs?’”
His wife, who works downtown at UFG Insurance, saw a bagel shop as a missing piece in the downtown restaurant scene. This isn’t Ford’s first foray into the bagel business; he previously worked as a general manager at Bruegger’s Bagels. Though he’s spent recent years in office jobs, he was ready to get back into the food industry.
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“I loved the interaction with customers, the interaction with employees,” he said. “I started my working life in the restaurant business. Once you’re in the restaurant business, it kind of never leaves your blood.”
He said, in restaurants, he is never bored.
“There are the friendships you make with the regular customers, and there is always something to do,” he said. “It’s just different than any other type of workplace.”
In addition to a variety of flavors of bagels and cream cheese and other spreads, Osgood’s offers bagel sandwiches and salads. Customers can either build their own salad from the three greens options and 35 toppings or can choose a recommended salad like the Thai chicken, with spicy breaded chicken, carrots, edamame, Mandarin oranges, red onion, sliced almonds, wonton strips and Asian sesame dressing, or the Farmers Market, with spicy breaded chicken, Parmesan cheese, carrots, corn, cucumber, grape tomatoes, fried onions and ranch dressing.
Though the eatery won’t normally be open on weekends — “We recognize our main clientele is downtown workers,” Ford said — he does plan to open and offer bagels during Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers’ Markets.
Osgood’s bagels are formed elsewhere but baked fresh daily in the store. Ford said, in his opinion, that is one of the keys to a good bagel.
“You have to start with the flavor. There should be flavor in every bite,” he said. “And freshness — baking every day in smaller batches so the bagels stay fresh is important. We use no preservatives. We’re really focusing on freshness.
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If you go:
• What: Osgood’s
• Where: 210 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
• When: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and during Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers’ Markets
• Details: (319) 200-4175, osgoodscr.com