It's been four and a half years since partners Dan Herbst and Geoff Hardman peddled their first homemade bagel at the Gordon Square Farmer's Market. Since then the bagel boys have moved production from Herbst's apartment to Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen to rented space at Ohio City Pasta and finally to their current home, a production facility and retail storefront in Ohio City, which they launched with help from investor Alan Glazen.
Next up for Cleveland Bagel Co.
(4201 Detroit Ave., 216-600-5652) is an East Side facility that will closely mirror the one-year-old shop in Ohio City. The new production facility and retail shop will assume roughly 2,800 square feet of a massive 140,000-square-foot warehouse on Carnegie Avenue at E. 77th. That facility also is home to Souper Market and Produce Packaging. A dedicated parking lot will make it easy for busy commuters to stop, shop and roll.
Herbst says that his best estimate for an opening is late spring or early summer.
Business continues to grow at Cleveland Bagel, where it’s not uncommon to see 250 customers on a busy weekday and 550 on a busy Saturday. In addition to the delicious bagels, which are rolled by hand, slowly fermented, proofed, water boiled and baked, the shop continues to add new products. First there was just bagel and schmears. Next up came hot breakfast sandwiches like a bacon, egg and cheese bagel. That was followed up by new toppings like hummus, guacamole and lox, all of which are made in house.
“The menu is simple, but we try to lead with quality,” Herbst says.
Cleveland Bagel employs a staff of 15, who all earn a minimum of $15 an hour plus tips. That roster should more than double when the new shop comes online, notes Herbst.
"We are asking a lot of our employees to show up at four in the morning and be on your feet all day," the owner says. "So paying a living wage goes a long way. If you pay them a decent wage and treat them with respect, you'll get dedication and loyalty."
Having facilities on both sides of town will allow the owners to greatly expand their wholesale business. Down the road, Cleveland Bagel can use additional available space at their new facility to move into the frozen bagel market. Fully baked, sliced and frozen, the bagels toast up to a delicious finished product.
“It’s nice to see business steadily grow and keep growing,” Herbst says. “Everything continues to fall into place as and when we needed them – kitchen opportunities, opportunities to grow, this second place. It keeps coming together at the right times.”
But if you still are holding out hope for a rainbow-colored bagel, Herbst says you can forget it.
“It’s just food dye. Do you normally eat lip gloss?”