Call Your Mother owner discusses local chain’s expansion

Media Credit: Jordyn Bailer | Photographer

Call your Mother first opened in 2018 and has since expanded to six locations with its newest opening in West End.

Foggy Bottom residents don’t have to trek to Georgetown anymore for a taste of Call Your Mother bagels with its new West End location, and next on the deli’s radar is Logan Circle.

The West End location, Call Your Mother Deli’s sixth establishment, opened Jan. 20 in the space previously dedicated to Mercy Me’s breakfast-specific café. Call Your Mother co-owner and founder Andrew Dana said he was involved in opening the South American fare restaurant and pictured one of his bagel shops there since the start.

“We originally almost put a Call Your Mother in there but then decided to do the Mercy Me café and just couldn’t get the idea out of our head,” he said. “So after two years we decided to make the switch and part of that is we wanted Mercy Me to be able to laser focus on providing their amazing dinner experience every day and not be distracted by doing breakfast and lunch.”

The Call Your Mother expansion comes six years after Dana opened Timber Pizza Company, his first restaurant, inspired by his dad.

“Growing up he always used to say ‘Oh I wish I had opened the deli,’ so I had that idea sort of baked in the back of my brain from a young age,” he said. “In college, I stole his line but switched into a pizza restaurant so I said ‘Oh I’m gonna go into marketing’ but realized how to open a pizza restaurant.”

Two years later, when the pizza restaurant became stable enough, Dana found himself with the time and budget to chase an even bigger dream – a bagel shop. Alongside his wife and co-owner Daniela, Dana opened his first Call Your Mother location in the D.C. community in 2018.

Dana said one thing that sets the new West End location apart from the other locations in the local chain is its abundance of seating. Mercy Me’s main dining room and its new Call Your Mother addition are connected to Yours Truly hotel and match its lobby’s aesthetic with a collection of mismatched reclaimed furniture for customers to enjoy their bagels on.

“Our eyes and ears are always open, so we’re always looking for the next great location,” he said.

Another neighborhood Dana received requests from customers to come to was Logan Circle. And now, Call Your Mother’s seventh location is set to open this spring at 1471 P St. NW, in what used to be a Blue Bottle Coffee shop.

Dana said with its seventh store opening this spring, customers can expect to see some new things on the menu including new bagel sandwiches and possibly a whole line of lunch sandwiches.

“Owning restaurants is really hard because you’re only as good as your last day,” he said. “People only remember your last service so you have to be relentless at your approach for quality and great service because even if you’ve been great for 100 days then you have one horrible day that’s what people remember.”

There is no “typical day” for Dana amid the business operation of his six bagel shops.

“Some days I’m working on design of new shops, some days I’m interviewing new general managers, some days I’m just working in the shop,” he said. “So every day is really really different which I think is the best part of my job, so you know I always have a creative outlet.”

Dana said he’s prioritized hiring employees with an intention of creating a welcoming environment for customers.

“We try really hard to only hire really fun, personable people because we want your interaction with the cashier and with the person handing you your food to be absolutely awesome,” he said.

But more than just hiring the right employees, Dana said it’s really about curating the brand.

“We want the branding to be super fun and interactive,” he said. “We look at every detail from music, to branding, to how you’re greeted at the door, while also trying to make the food super fun, and delicious, and with a little hint of nostalgia so you remember your favorite childhood donut or bagel.”

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