It’s A Bagel’s World

A Deep Dive into Reading’s Bagel Shops


Erin Mulvey ('21), Orbit Contributor

9:00 am. Saturday. Main Street in Reading, MA.

While driving south towards Stoneham in the right lane, you pass a line of non-moving cars in the “left turn” lane. They are waiting for something. You assume that whatever it is must be worth the wait if they willingly remain in this stationary line. What are they waiting for?

The answer: bagels. 

Not just any bagels. Bagel World bagels. 

To someone who is not a Reading native, or even a native of surrounding towns, the idea of waiting more than 10 minutes for a bagel is probably perplexing. “All bagels are the same,” they may say. Or, “What’s so special about bread with a hole?!” 

Obviously, most Reading citizens do not share the same sentiment. 

The evidence of this? Maybe the fact that Bagel World is one of two bagel places within a quarter mile of each other on Main Street. And another shop is on the way to opening.  Also on Main St.

The Long-time Favorite:  Bagel World

The first Bagel World location opened on Sylvan Street in Peabody, MA in 1993. Since then, they’ve opened 3 other locations in Reading, Salem, and a second location in Peabody. The Reading location opened in 1998. 

Reading’s Bagel World is located at 323 Main St. Their parking lot is adjacent to the street, and the location has a drive-thru. The drive-thru sometimes is operated by an employee who stands outside and directs cars into two separate lanes before merging into one. This often occurs on extremely busy days and is an attempt to decrease traffic on the street.


Bagel World’s mission, as stated on their official website, has been as follows: “bringing our customers the best bagels, sandwiches, drinks and coffees at affordable prices using the highest-quality ingredients for delicious and convenient fast-casual dining.” The store has a 4.5/5 star rating on Google Reviews.

Bagel World employee Gabby Verbero has been working at the shop for about 5 years. She says the most popular bagels are definitely everything and french toast. The mocha cappuccino is another Reading favorite. 

Bagel World gets a lot of customers, but their parking lot can be tricky to enter and exit. It’s especially hard when the two lines of drive-thru cars are blocking the entrance to the parking lot. Some have to park in lots next to the shop and walk down to the entrance. 

The drive-thru, though, also allows for lots more business. Verbero explains, “When you have a drive-thru it’s more convenient. That’s why it’s a lot busier than the line inside the store.”

The New Kid:  Perfecto’s

If the 30-minute line you can see on a Saturday morning is not evidenced enough of the love Reading has for bagels, then maybe the fact there are not one, but two other bagel shops within a one-mile radius of Bagel World proves this.

One of these shops is none other than Perfecto’s Caffe, a family-owned business that has almost half a dozen locations on the North Shore. 

Reading’s Perfecto’s opened 3 years ago in 2018. It is also located on Main St (285 Main St), about 4 buildings away from Bagel World. The parking lot is similar to Bagel World in that it is adjacent to Main St. But, it has much fewer spaces than Bagel World and is sometimes difficult to navigate because of the limited space.



According to Olivia Pineau, Perfecto’s employee and RMHS senior, the most popular bagels include everything, plain, and french toast. People also tend to love the dozens of different coffee options that Perfecto’s offers. Perfecto’s has a 4.3/5 star rating on Google Reviews. 

Pineau has been working at Perfecto’s for about a year. She not only loves working there but loves the bagels and coffee as well. “When people work at a place, they usually start to hate the taste or smell of the food after a while. But I still love the bagels and eat them even when I’m not working,” she says.

Perfecto’s also offers Grubhub and DoorDash. Pineau believes that they do get lots of orders through these sites, but many times a driver will stop in and get something for themselves, too.

Comparing Options 

Perfecto’s and Bagel World are 4 buildings away from each other. On the same street. In the same town. It almost takes effort not to compare the two. This comparison, though, could and does depend on many things. The parking, the convenience, the time of day, and, of course, the bagels themselves. 

Bagel World may seem to be more popular than Perfecto’s from a casual onlooker’s eye, but this could very well be due to the lack of drive-thru and limited parking at Perfecto’s. Bagel World may just be more convenient.

Pineau even admits, “At least once a day someone will come in and complain about parking. I mean, I get it. I’ve accidentally hit a car in our parking lot before.” 

Verbero from Bagel World is definitely correct when she explains the convenience of the drive-thru. Pineau adds, “We have another location with a drive-thru that’s not in Reading. That location gets lots of business. We still get a lot of business, but it’s definitely more convenient when there’s a drive-thru.”

Both Perfecto’s and Bagel World get lots of business on the weekends. A simple Main St car ride on a Saturday or Sunday morning will show a clump of cars filled with people eager to get their hands on bagels.

In terms of which bagel is actually better, it honestly comes down to the consumer’s taste buds. RMHS senior Kiara Tangney explains, “Bagel World bagels are definitely bigger than Perfecto’s, and I feel like it’s more of a meal. When I eat Perfecto’s, sometimes it’s not as filling as I’d like. But when it comes to flavor and texture, I definitely like Perfecto’s more.” 

On the other hand, Elizabeth Donahue, another Reading native, explains that she is more of a Bagel World fan. She says, “If I was in the mood for a bagel, Bagel World would be the first place that comes to mind. Maybe if Bagel World was insanely crowded I’d go to Perfecto’s, but Bagel World’s bagels are always my first choice.” 

So, it’s hard to say which place is better overall. They both have their positives and negatives. Bagel World’s drive-thru allows you to get good quality bagels without ever having to leave your car. But, Perfecto’s is definitely a shorter wait with no long lines running onto the street. However, if it comes down to the bagel itself, it honestly depends on the customer’s taste buds. 

A New Option?

The third shop, which is a few doors down and across the street from Perfecto’s, is called House of Bagels. This shop has not opened and has yet to announce the date it will open. House of Bagels has been relatively active on social media in recent months, even posting some sneak peeks of their menu. It remains to be seen whether or not this new shop will impact the popularity of Perfecto’s or Bagel World.

When Pineau was asked about the new shop opening, she says, “I think there’s loyalty with the bagel places in Reading. Maybe [House of Bagels] will grow their own fanbase, but I definitely think there are some customers who are completely loyal to one place or the other. I know I see lots of regulars at Perfecto’s that only go there and nowhere else. It will be interesting to see.”