My Creative Life: Liz Jeffrey | Lox Bagel Sandwich

April 3, 2017
Lox Bagel Sandwich - A bagel sandwich layered with incredible ingredients. Lox, herb spiked cream cheese, capers, and onion. Making for a great meal anytime of the day

“Luck? I don't know anything about luck. I've never banked on it and I'm afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else:  Hard work and realizing what is an opportunity and what isn't”    ~ Lucille Ball

Photo Credit – Instagram @daily_harvest

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Today, a continuation of a five-part series here at The Veggies

Liz Jeffrey and her husband Ryan are the geniuses behind Arcadia, one of Ames, Iowa's most loved coffee shops. Home to “The slowest cup of coffee in town.”  Not only is their food comforting (mmmm .. Laksa soup and Sweet Potato Gnocchi), but the homey vibe makes you want to stay a while, have a turtle bar, and take a million Instagram pics

In Part I – They chatted about moving to Ames, early experiences in the culinary world, and her parent's funny reaction when she told them they were getting married

In Part II – Liz shared her journey toward perspective, why she doesn't take short cuts and a terrifying late-night robbery that would forever shape their business strategy

In Part III .. They offer words of wisdom to someone thinking of opening a restaurant, the bachelor food they love to cook at home and the unexpected origin of their (much-loved!) cheesecake recipe

Ahead they share funny customer pet peeves, a truly unforgettable order, Ryan's home-brew, and why the bakery is Liz's sacred space

— — —

What was the ah-ha moment when you knew you were succeeding at Arcadia?

Liz:  We were open long enough that if I was out and about in town, people's response went from “I don’t know what Arcadia is” to “Oh yes, I’ve heard of that place.”

That’s when I started to figure out that people knew we were there, had maybe wanted to stop in but just hadn’t gotten around to it or whatever

Photo Credit – Liz Jeffrey – Facebook

What was it like going from coffee shop owners to restaurant owners?

Ryan:  So different that I wasn't prepared for it

We have a manager. So I assumed I’d have a lot fewer things to deal with and a lot more time. I'd have to handle fewer employee problems .. scheduling .. the day-to-day stuff. I had a chef who was doing most of the ordering. I could get back to doing what I was doing in the bakery

I have no more time now than I did at the old shop. Less time actually .. because it’s all new

We went from having 130 transactions in a day to 400. We assumed we would double .. we hoped we would triple .. but we didn’t realize we would quadruple. The majority of the transactions are within two one-hour periods(!)

Ryan:  Just keeping up with how to fill in that level of service is a challenge. It's such a different world. We have a more complicated menu than we were fully prepared for. We brought the chef on half-way through the construction process .. after the blueprints were finalized

— — —

Is there anything you regret about the design? 

The layout and sizing. We didn’t design the place with this complete of a menu. I didn’t have a dishwasher. I didn’t have a twenty-five-foot hood

Ryan:  To try to have the space to do this level of menu .. plus the bakery .. plus the bar .. plus the coffee shop. We’re looking for every square inch we can use

I probably wouldn’t reproduce the choices we made with the front-of-house pastry cases. I would still want a dry case and a refrigerated case, but the grab-and-go just doesn’t make sense for us right now. So that’s one decision I probably should have stuck with what I knew. I didn’t give myself enough credit, how much my bakery/coffee shop would still be Arcadia's backbone

The bakery and coffee shop items don’t cost a lot. Whereas the liquor, the wine, and the dinner. Those are bigger tickets. Right now the majority of our sales are still breakfast/lunch. Which is awesome, because these are my things.  If anything ever happened, I could still run the place and do ok with just Arcadia as it was

Ryan:  It’s a learning experience

We have five full-time chefs in the back and they’re all trying to work on the line (half their line is a dishwasher).  So they have an island (18”) to use for prep, one little wheely cart, and maybe a 2 x 3-foot cutting board. That's their space.

Then there's my bakery

They keep trying to push into my bakery, and I keep pushing them back. It’s still the backbone. If you don’t have bread .. you don’t have anything you’re putting on the bread

So we’re learning how to work as a team

Lox Bagel Sandwich - A bagel sandwich layered with incredible ingredients. Lox, herb spiked cream cheese, capers, and onion. Making for a great meal anytime of the day

You know everybody's daily routine. Are there any funny customer pet peeves? 

( .. they laughed .. )

We've had people try to return coffee. They’ll buy a pound and say “Eh, this really wasn't what I was looking for.” So I remind them we sell it by the cup if they'd like to try it first, and that brewing techniques are different

“I'll take the beet locks bagel .. but will you grill it first?”

“I’ll have the Pâté medium-done or medium-well”

And then there are the most wonderful couple who stop in every morning. The first time they came they said “If you don't screw this up, we'll be in here every day”

(Pressure!)

He gets up at 4 am to go workout; so he’s coming in after and she’s coming from home. They have coffee and read the paper together

They'd both like a muffin with one drop of chocolate sauce (a tsp or less).  Skim milk in their drinks. His a 12 oz latte. Hers? A 16 oz iced mocha with one drop of chocolate .. a double-shot of regular espresso and a shot of decaf (but only pour half of it in).  Also a steaming cup of hot water. For each a to-go cup to pour in her lukewarm water (2″) and his ¼ of a latte

So I guess we got it right. But for every new person, they have to explain that order. She always takes a deep breath. It’s a lot to explain

Ryan:  They've been coming in for a while now and they’re very nice people

Did you ever tweak it? Just to mess with them and see if they can tell the difference?

She swears she can

— — —

Is there any chance that Ryan’s homebrew will make it to Arcadia?

Ryan:  Not as such; the legalities of that are very difficult. In Iowa, you can have your brewery and you can serve your beer, but you can’t serve any other alcohol. You can’t have a bar and a brewery. You can’t have a brewery and a winery .. or a brewery and a distillery

On that front, I do have plans for the near future. I'd like to do some guest brews at the breweries. That way I can have a keg of something I brewed and we can collaborate

What makes a good customer?

I liked when your husband first came in. He said “I don’t do this regular thing. Let me order because maybe I don’t want the same thing.”  So that’s how he always prefaced it, and I appreciated that

Ryan's mom is the world’s worst customer. She doesn’t know anybody and says, “I’ll have my usual”

Ryan:  But she orders four different things

Employees don’t know who she is. One of the girls asked, “Can I just get your name?”

Ryan: She wouldn’t give her name. “Just put it on my tab”

“But I don’t know who you are”

Good customers are patient and kind to our employees. For example, if somebody is clearly struggling, don't let them struggle

Ryan:  They’ll communicate their expectations without being a jerk about it. They won’t wait until everything has gone badly and then say something at the very end

Unrealistic expectations. If you see people trying to work their hardest and you’re not getting the best service, but you also see that it’s busy

We have some people who know us outside of the shop, and they always come in when it's busy. They'll be talking to me while I'm trying to take their order. I’m trying to process what’s happening over here, their order, and getting it down. So I ask them to repeat it

“But I've already gone through this”

Another good example:  We were re-doing our chia recipe and I asked some people try it out. The first time around, it would have been a $7 drink, and so we had to cut back on what was in it

“It’s never been as good as that time”

( .. to be continued .. )

Lox Bagel Sandwich - A bagel sandwich layered with incredible ingredients. Lox, herb spiked cream cheese, capers, and onion. Making for a great meal anytime of the day

My first bagel with lox was at Arcadia, and I've loved them ever since.

A bagel sandwich layered with incredibly flavorful ingredients. Lox, herb-spiked cream cheese, capers, tomato, and onion. The recipe is more of a guide, rather than something to be followed to the letter.

A sandwich that's the making of a great meal, for any time of the day. Start your day off right by having one for breakfast. Refuel your energy and have one for lunch. Or, throw one together for an easy weeknight dinner

A few notes about the recipe

Wondering what's the difference between lox and smoked salmon? Me too

Use whatever bagel you like, knowing it will taste best with something that isn't too sweet  (at Arcadia they're served on an everything bagel)

They're great served with a green salad and a few high-quality olives

Enjoy!

xoxo

~ Adapted from The Seattle Times

Lox Bagel Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 4 bagels (everything bagels are great here)
  • 6 oz light cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp capers, drained and coarsely chopped + more for sprinkling on the sandwich
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon (or lox)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
  • ¼ red onion, sliced thin

Instructions

  • Cut each bagel in half and open, cut-sides up
  • Mix cream cheese with dill, lemon zest and juice, capers and a grind of black pepper.
  • Spread herbed cream cheese on both sides of bagels.
  • Arrange smoked salmon on bottoms, top with tomatoes, red onion slices, and a sprinkling of capers
  • Replace bagel tops
  • Enjoy!
Serves: 4
Nutrition + Show
Rating:
Calories 417
Total Fat 12.9g
Saturated Fat 4.8g
Carbohydrates 52.9g
Fiber 5.3g
Sugars 7.7g
Protein 23.3g
Print This Recipe

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45 Comments

  • Reply Emma April 3, 2017 at 3:12 am

    This Lox Bagel Sandwich recipe is a winner in my book! I will save this recipe and get salmon or lox at the store tomorrow. It is going to be a delicious lunch for me and my hubby to take to work.

  • Reply Vlad Vaida April 3, 2017 at 3:52 am

    This looks so freaking good! Makes me wanna have some veggies and I will actually try to do this now. But not now, now — I have to go to the market first haha! But really though, this sandwich looks so colorful and delish I can’t even!

  • Reply Kathy Myers April 3, 2017 at 7:31 am

    I am a sucker for anything avocados. I love them in sandwiches. These look amazing.

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus April 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

    What a delicious bagel recipe. What strikes me about them both is how they are willing to learn from their mistakes and will openly admit when something is not turning out as they hoped!

  • Reply Eloise April 3, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    yum that bagel/sandwich looks good, love the coloring of the veggies! I would love to try it sometime VERY soon. What a cute place too…from what I could see : )

  • Reply Katie Kinsley April 3, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to try this sandwich. I’m not a fish fan, but I do love sushi.

  • Reply Nina April 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    That’s awesome how quickly your business multiplied! That must have felt great! And I love what you all say about a good customer. They are kind and understanding because employees are people too.

  • Reply Emma April 3, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Smoked salmon and cream cheese are just made fro each other – such a delicious combination. I have it most Sundays fro brunch (can’t eat the bagel 🙁 wheat free) but I have it on grain free bread and it’s delicious!

  • Reply Debra Hawkins April 3, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    My sister lives in Iowa, I am going to have to send her this way. It looks and sounds amazing! I think this sandwich looks incredible, it would be a an absolute favorite of my husband in now time. We will have to look in up if we are ever in the area.

  • Reply Stacie April 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm


    That’s an amazing recipe! Pretty much anything involving bagels is always a winner for me. Om nom nom.

  • Reply Heather April 3, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I kept looking at that sandwich and was wondering if it was raw fish. I love salmon. This little place sounds interesting and fun. If I lived there. I’d surely stop in for a bagel sandwich and coffee.

  • Reply Censie Sawyer April 3, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    YUM! This is a great recipe. We have a bagel shop down the street that does a similar sandwich and it is always so good. I have it for lunch sometimes.

  • Reply Jenny April 3, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Those bagel sandwiches look heavenly. Yum!!

  • Reply Jennifer Van Huss April 3, 2017 at 6:16 pm


    That bagel looks fabulous!! That restaurant looks great! I wish I could eat at more bagel shops, but unfortunately with celiac disease that isn’t possible! I can’t wait to recreate this at home.

  • Reply Joely Smith April 3, 2017 at 7:23 pm


    THIS is my kind of place and my kind of sandwich! This is the way I eat every day and love it. Thanks for the killer recipe! I will be making it!

  • Reply Tiffany Hathorn April 3, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Man, I haven’t had this type of bagel since one of my last visits to New York City way back in 2008.

  • Reply Heather April 3, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    That’s a great quote from Ms. Ball! That bagel sammy looks so darn delicious. Thanks for making my stomach growl. Everything bagels are my jam for sure!

  • Reply Alicia Taylor April 3, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    I make bagels and lox about half the time for my husband and I for breakfast. He absolutely loves it. I haven’t ever put onions or tomatoes on it, though. I’ll have to try that for him. Also, thank you for the interview with the owners. It was very enlightening to see the back end of planning. I also love the Quinoa breakfast burger. That sounds absolutely delicious.

  • Reply Elizabeth O. April 3, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    I think they’re really amazing! I really wish I could try their place and what they have to offer. The bagels look so appetizing as well. I’m definitely going to enjoy those.

  • Reply Abby April 3, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    The Lox Bagel sandwich looks so delicious. The place looks and sounds amazing and I would definitely drop by when I am in the area.

  • Reply Rebecca Swenor April 4, 2017 at 8:53 am


    This is a great interview with the owners of the Arcadia. I would love to visit this place breakfast or lunch. The fruit & zabione sounds amazing and I would love to try it. The Lox bagel sandwich I am going to have to make for my family. Thanks for sharing the interview and the recipe.

  • Reply Melissa Dixon April 4, 2017 at 9:50 am

    This sandwich looks tasty! I would imagine working in a restaurant you probably run into quite a mix of characters.

  • Reply Victoria April 4, 2017 at 10:41 am

    What an amazing recipe and awesome sandwiches! Truly look yummy! Kids will like it because of this yummy look.

  • Reply Erinn Sluka April 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

    That restaurant looks fantastic. I am not ito lox but my son would actually enjoy tasting the bagel. Great menu.

  • Reply Madeline April 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    My kind of sandwich!! This looks amazing! When I lived in London England I would go to a bagel shop around the corner from my house at least 3-4x a week and this would be my choice almost all the time!

  • Reply Sam April 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm


    Yum that looks so good. I haven’t thought about using a bagel in place of bread. Since I am watching my diet a bit closer, a bagel is quite a bit of calories to spend on 1 meal.

  • Reply Monica April 4, 2017 at 2:54 pm


    That sandwich looks delicious. I love the bagel on it, it is kind of popular in Los Angeles area, but for whatever reason I do not do it home, so maybe it is time to start buying the bagels and trying to make this at home. I also love avocados. We do need more veggies at home.

  • Reply Nancy April 4, 2017 at 2:57 pm


    That Bagel looks beyond delicious. It made my stomach rumble. I love the story honestly! Customers can be so hard to get to know but once you have a relationship with them, and get to know their likes and dislikes it can be a little easier… until new regulars come in that is. Great post.

  • Reply Natalie April 4, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I would love to try a vegan version of this recipe. I am always eating bagels, although keep the filling pretty simple.

  • Reply Jacqui Odell April 4, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    This sounds so yummy and easy to do. I am always looking for quick meals to do for lunch during the week when it’s just me.

  • Reply Oyinkan Ogunleye April 5, 2017 at 1:50 am

    I love that you appreciate when someone orders something different than their usual. It makes it more fun!

  • Reply Lynndee April 5, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Both the hubs and I love bagel, but we only put cream cheese on them. This recipe sounds delicious! I will have to try it soon!

  • Reply Emily April 5, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    That’s the kind of sandwich I would love to have right now. Just seeing that makes my stomach growl lol.

  • Reply Mimi Green April 6, 2017 at 6:33 am

    I was tuned into this story like it was a book and not real life. Very fascinating to get the behind the scenes. If I’m ever in the area I’m going to visit.

  • Reply victoria heckstall April 8, 2017 at 3:51 am

    Looks yummy and delicious! I love it! Really fantastic. I’d love to try this.

  • Reply Jenn April 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I love this blog post. The sandwhich looks amazing. Of course your photos are all amazing, and make everything looks good. I’ll be trying this recipe one evening this week. We love sandwiches for dinner on a weeknight.

  • Reply Shirley April 11, 2017 at 1:31 am


    I love bagel sandwiches and this one looking so incredible! I’m going to surprise my husband and make them for Sunday morning breakfast this weekend x

  • Reply Diane Hoffmaster April 11, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Just looking at the menu board is making me drool. Bagel sandwiches are awesome. I used to have a white pizza with broccoli bagel for lunch every day in college.

  • Reply Dusica April 11, 2017 at 1:59 pm


    This sandwich likes delicious…ah…all those images …I wish to taste everything. Great recipes!

  • Reply Victoria Lola April 11, 2017 at 6:00 pm


    This is sooo good; healthy ingredients. I should try this, hopefully it turns out as good as yours =D

  • Reply Kiwi April 12, 2017 at 2:08 am

    I think this is so special you are doing a 5 part series on this couple. You take amazing photos and love how detailed you are in the interviewing. Look the bagels you are posting have me sold and I want to visit here real soon just to try this flavorful bagel!

  • Reply Tonya Wilhelm April 20, 2017 at 1:50 pm


    I was addicted to salt bagel sandwiches for a few years in my younger life. I still totally love them. I think I need to go to the store, grab a bagel, avocado and some of these other ingredients and get to work. I’ll skip the lox.

  • Reply Sarah Bailey April 28, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Now this sounds like my kind of place to grab a bite to eat! How utterly delicious.

  • Reply Chelsea Elizabeth May 1, 2017 at 4:25 am

    This sound amazing! I’m a huge fan of bagels especially smothered in Philadelphia cheese

  • Reply David Elliott June 14, 2017 at 4:01 am

    I have to admit the part where the owner said that they knew when they made it when the locals went from not hearing about them to having heard about them some place. That resonates for someone trying to grow a business. As for the lox bagels, I have to admit that they scare me a bit. I love bagels with cream cheese but I have seen the lox in the Ikea stores and it just never excited me very much. Maybe I would change my mind after eating it. Who knows.

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