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.
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 seen in: Cleveland Scene, Photo by Frank J. Lanza
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.
As seen in: Freshwater Cleveland, Photo by Bob Perkoski
Steadfast Clevelanders have never been subtle about declaring their allegiance for their hometown. For years, prominent t-shirt company BCTZ has commanded us to “Defend Cleveland,” while screen printing institution Daffy Dan has been reminding us that “You’ve Got to be Tough.” And don’t get us started on the never-ending stream of sports-themed apparel.
But even the most nearsighted among us can see that things are different these days. There is a tidal wave of fresh businesses that flaunt the city through an assortment of Cleveland-themed apparel and products or by integrating the city name right into their company’s branding.
As seen in: Edible Cleveland, Photo by Laura Watilo Blake
When one door closes, the oven door opens. At least that was the case for Dan “Bagelman” Herbst last spring when he found himself laid off and finally with enough spare time to fulfill his dream of bringing the perfect bagel to Cleveland.
Drawing inspiration from time spent in the center of the bagel universe (aka New York City), Herbst has developed a proprietary recipe that blends both Montreal– and New York-style methods. The Montreal style, usually made with malt and sugar, but no salt, is always baked in a wood-fired oven. You’ll notice bagels made in this fashion look very rustic and have a bigger hole than the New York-style bagel, which is puffier, moister, and less sweet. Try to ask Herbst more about how exactly he’s combined the two styles and you’ll be met with polite silence. He’s serious about protecting his secret recipe.