When you think of the New York food scene, you can easily hunt down any type of food from any culture. However, there are certain types of foods that New York just does right, considering the quality of the water in the area. At the top of that list would be pizza and bagels.
The soft water, meaning low concentrations of calcium and minerals, combined with the way the dough is cooked makes for a hearty, chewy, and flavorful bagel. H&H Bagels have used the same recipe since day one, using high-quality ingredients and continuing to earn a reputation for their brand’s premium product.
Founded in 1972 on the West Side of Manhattan, H&H Bagels have continued to locate all-natural ingredients from around the world. Two years after its first location launched, a second location opened on the Upper East Side. Jay Rushin, CEO of H&H purchased the remaining assets in 2014. “I spent the last 8 years rebuilding the brand after saving it from years of mismanagement.”
“I was never much into a fixer-upper concept but was attracted to the great iconic New York bagel brand. I had the opportunity to come in and contribute to its growth,” shared Rushin. Starting with the infrastructure, Rushin looked to rebuild the company’s foundation and bring the brand back on point. In 2016, just two years after joining, Rushin opened a new H&H restaurant on the Upper West Side.
In 2017, he looked at growing the business outside of New York and started a national wholesale business for the company. “It’s a frozen product business and our products are sold nationally through Amazon Fresh, as well as 8-10 high-quality regional grocers. Our national wholesale business went up nearly 400% during the pandemic, and our nationwide shipping business went up almost 500%, making up for our struggles to sell locally.”
Rushin shared that the vision for the future of the H&H Bagels franchise is to partner with like-minded entrepreneurial individuals. “We are highly cognizant of the people we want to work with, looking ahead to build upon our management team. Our operations staff ran both the wholesale and retail operations during the pandemic, contributing to our successes. The head bakers and managers have been passionately working for the company for anywhere from 15-25 years. We’re looking for dedicated people who take pride in our brand and culture.” H&H has partnered with MSA Consulting to launch their franchise program. Rushin shared that the target franchisee would be fans of the brand and product who are enthusiastic about the culture of running a great operation.
Rushin has brought his unique ability to create a vision to the H&H national franchise rollout. The franchise unit is typically 1200 square feet and all bagels are baked in New York. Once baked to perfection, the bagels are shipped out to franchises. “We weren’t afraid of the trial-and-error process. We spent 18 months testing equipment to get it right. Our ovens, made by Revent, have proven to bake the bagels to our highest standards. Bagel concepts have struggled before, but our dedication to finding the right equipment to produce the best product consistently makes us stand out. The quality of the H&H product is unlike any other bagel in the country.”
His recipe for success for H&H franchisees also includes operational efficiency. The H&H units will open for breakfast and lunch only, and minimize payroll with an efficient one-shift labor model.
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