BUSINESS: UPPER KEYS WELCOMES A ‘F-ING’ BAGEL SHOP

Owner Trinity VanSteenburg loves to get creative with the F-ing Bagels menu. Here she poses with bagels topped with sprinkles and Fruity Pebbles. CHARLOTTE TWINE/Keys Weekly

Islamorada’s F-ing Bagels is now open seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

So let’s get the restaurant’s name out of the way first. Parents: You may want to refrain from reading this article aloud in front of little ones, as — how should we put this? — some spicy language lies ahead. 

Islamorada’s F-ing Bagels serves up “Keys-style” bagels as part of its breakfast/lunch menu. Most baked goods — including those f—ing bagels — are made in-house. Before the small eatery’s opening, owner Trinity VanSteenburg, with her sons Joey and Landon, experimented with finding perfect bagel recipes and flavors. Fruity Pebbles bagels, cinnamon raisin bagels, plain bagels, everything bagels, S’mores bagels … bagels, bagels, bagels.

At one point, VanSteenburg said to her sons, “If I try another f—ing bagel…”

And they replied, “Mom, that should be the name of the store.”

And Bingo. F-ing Bagels was born.

Recent daily specials include ham, bacon, cheddar cheese and chipotle on a bagel as well as a pastrami Reuben with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing on rye bread. CHARLOTTE TWINE/Keys Weekly

“Let’s have fun and get laughing again,” VanSteenburg told Keys Weekly, explaining her decision to roll with naming her restaurant after the F-bomb. 

Staff member Destani Olivarri said the restaurant’s name is definitely, well, a scream. Olivarri works the front counter, makes a mean watermelon kiwi lemonade and takes orders over the phone.

“We’re definitely careful when kids are around,” said Olivarri about saying the name aloud. But she has some customers who call specifically to place an order and to bust chops with the uncensored name.

“They yell, ‘Is this f—ing bagels?’” she said. When she responds in kind, the callers die of laughter. (We guess it doesn’t take much to tickle their funny bone.)

F-ing Bagels bakes some sweet treats in-house, including a “scookie,” top left, a marriage of a scone to a cookie. CHARLOTTE TWINE/Keys Weekly

Meanwhile, despite the light-hearted restaurant moniker, VanSteenburg takes the menu very seriously. She gives Olivarri, manager Phil Stanley and staffer Khouri Flanagan the go-ahead to get creative with drinks and sandwiches. Thus, Olivarri’s kiwi watermelon lemonade is perfect with a recent daily special: an impressively tall ham, bacon, cheddar cheese and chipotle bagel sammie. Sandwiches are also available on croissants, in combinations that customers can either pick from the menu or build on their own: buffalo chicken, ranch dressing and swiss; pastrami Reuben with Swiss, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing; smoked salmon, red onion, capers, tomatoes and cream cheese. 

But New York bagel fans, be forewarned: F-ing bagels are definitely “Keys-style,” VanSteenburg pointed out. She tried to recreate a New York bagel but was thwarted by Florida’s humidity, which affects the texture of all doughs, not just for bagels. Still, despite the different recipe, F-ing Bagels are very well-liked, says the staff. Customers have been coming in so steadily that the restaurant’s hours were expanded to seven days a week (as opposed to just five days, when the restaurant opened in July). And there’s even been a best-selling bagel flavor: Asiago.

Service with a smile: F-ing Bagels manager, Phil Stanley, left, takes an order from regular customer Thomas Caito. CHARLOTTE TWINE/Keys Weekly

Bagels notwithstanding, VanSteenburg—who has a lifetime of experience in the restaurant industry and also owns Islamorada’s Caribbean Catering & Rentals as well as Keys Planning & Events — loves to keep playing with the menu to keep the crowds happy. She has a line of sweet pastries; a selection of gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free treats from a local company called Healthy D’Lites; and plans to offer salads and pretzel bites — made fresh, in-house — sometime soon.

That’s the theme of F-ing Bagels: fun on the fly.

“When people have ideas for the menu,” VanSteenburg said, “we want to hear it.”

F-ing Bagels is located at 80925 Overseas Hwy., Unit 6, oceanside, in Islamorada, and is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 305-587-1951 or go to www.f-ingbagels.com.

The outside of F-ing Bagels. CHARLOTTE TWINE/Keys Weekly
Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines; Elle.com; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.