By Lorrie Baumann
H & H Midtown East Bagels has been making its crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bagels in its Manhattan location at the heart of New York City for 43 years. Famous among the bagel-loving cognoscenti, the H & H Midtown bagels have won more top scores on local “best bagel” polls than Owner Jay Rushin can recall right off the top of his head, but he’s confident that New Yorkers who’ve moved away from the city that never sleeps will greet with enthusiasm the national launch of H & H Midtown bagels into the retail market.
“The number one complaint from retailers is that they can’t get a great bagel where they live. Everyone complains that they just can’t get a great bagel, and we are the answer to that,” said Mark Weinberg, H & H Midtown’s National Sales Director, who’s spearheading the drive into the retail market. “I don’t want to sound over confident but … the reality is that we are different, and a lot of customers who demand the best request H&H Midtown Bagels by name.”
Some of that confidence comes from the success of the H & H Midtown East Bagels in the foodservice channel, and some of it comes from the company’s online retail sales. “People are already ordering bagels online from all over the country,” Weinberg said. Those online sales reflect the migration of New Yorkers from the city into some of the biggest growth markets in the country, including California, Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Colorado, according to Weinberg. “They move to different states, and they settle down, and nobody can find a decent bagel,” he said.
The bagels that are now being offered at retail are the same sold at the company’s Manhattan retail store, made by Baker David Figueroa who started with the company when he was just 16 years old and has been there now for 25 years now. He’s using the same recipe that’s been used at H & H Midtown East since the business started and much of the same equipment, although the ovens and mixers were recently refurbished, Rushin said. “We still follow the old-fashioned way of making bagels and we use the finest ingredients money can buy,” he said.
The flour used in the bagel dough is one of the most expensive on the market, he added. “All that combines to make a classic New York water bagel,” he said. “We still use the kettle to boil the bagels, and we still use the burlap-covered boards to bake them.”
His personal favorite bagel is the classic plain bagel, and for him, the combination of taste and texture offered by the H & H Midtown bagel means that it doesn’t have to be topped with anything at all. He said, “You can make a cheaper bagel or a quicker bagel, but that shows in the quality.”
The H & H Midtown Bagels are offered for retail sale in six-packs that retail for around $3.99. “I truly believe that being in the retail stores, it’ll be a home run for anyone who carries our brand,” Weinberg said. “We can provide signage, we have the demographics, and, most important, we have the demand for our world famous brand!”