Inventing the Cleveland Bagel

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.

Working out of the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen in downtown Cleveland, Herbst and partner Geoff Hardman began selling their goods at local farmers markets last spring. Business has steadily grown and they’re now offering seasonally-inspired spreads (or “schmears” as Herbst calls them) around town.

For those who prefer what Herbst calls a “doughy bread round,” the Cleveland Bagel is not for you. Their hand-rolled bagels take more than 24 hours from start to finish and produce a chewy, old-world style bagel with a crisp skin and light interior. The spread combinations are equally as inventive with combinations like thyme, black pepper and horseradish and brie with honey and toasted walnuts (ingredients sourced locally, when possible). Bagels and schmears are priced at $1.50 each.

Find Cleveland Bagel Co.’s products at Rising Star Coffee Roasters daily and at Erie Island Coffee in Rocky River, and Pour downtown on weekday mornings. Herbst and Hardman are still looking for Cleveland Bagel Co.’s permanent home but anticipate they’ll eventually settle somewhere on Cleveland’s west side.

For more information, added retail locations, and to get a good dose of Herbst’s sense of humor, connect with the Cleveland Bagel Co. on Facebook at ClevelandBagelCo or Instagram at clebagelco.