As seen on the front page of the Wall Street Journal
CLEVELAND—New Yorkers are brash champions of their bagels. Montrealers politely insist theirs are best. But there may be a bagel that is better than both in a place that isn’t used to bragging about itself: Cleveland.
The bagel comes from the kitchen of the Cleveland Bagel Co., which is barely a kitchen at all. It is the backroom of a local pasta shop. That is where 300 dozen bagels are rolled every week by a former warehouse employee and a software executive without any hint of experience.
A better bagel begins with a plan. And for the boys behind this popular startup, that plan was to come up with a style of bagel not readily available here, a sort of hybrid between doughy New York-style bagels and the sweet and squiggly ones commonly found in Montreal. After years of trial and error, the result is a truly unique, delicious, Cleveland-style bagel. This is not doughnut-shaped bread, but rather hand-rolled, water-boiled and batch-baked goodness that results in pleasantly chewy bagels with that characteristic slick, shiny skin. The bagels are available at coffee shops and restaurants around town. Get yours topped with sea salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or a little bit of everything — what folks in the know call mish-mash. Slice, schmear, repeat.
As seen in: Cleveland Magazine, photo by Cleveland Magazine
Cleveland Bagel Co. co-owners Geoff Hardman and Dan Herbst are more than just bakers — they are inventors. In 2013, the duo spent countless hours creating a Cleveland-style bagel — a mashup between those you’d find in New York and Montreal. The result is an Old World-style bagel with a crusty ring and a chewy interior.
As a warehouse worker, Dan Herbst was no stranger to burning the midnight oil; then, a layoff sidelined him from his routine. That’s when he joked to his longtime friend Geoff Hardman that, “Maybe I’ll just start making bagels.” Hardman, who was constantly searching in vain for locally sourced bagels for business meetings, stopped in his tracks. A few cocktails later, the wheels were set in motion for Cleveland Bagel Co., despite a decided lack of culinary experience between the pair.