If Andrew Rubinstein has his way, Rubinstein Bagels will eventually become a household name across the Seattle region. Rubinstein is currently making and selling bagels at Ethan Stowell’s Cortina Cafe, on the second floor lobby in Two Union Square downtown, but is close to signing a lease on a space all his own in South Lake Union, near the Amazon Spheres. He can’t share the location just yet, but he says it should be up and running by April. And Rubinstein says there are many more to come.
Rubinstein’s South Lake Union cafe, which will cover 1,500 square feet, will sell the business’s current selection of plain, sea salt, everything, poppy seed, sesame seed, and minced garlic bagels. The menu will also likely include a sweet bagel, breakfast sandwiches, and challah, plus a few “experimental” bagel flavors like gochujang, and curry with mango chutney. Rubinstein is also closing in on an Eastside location, which he says will be open by late 2020 or early 2021.
Rubinstein wakes up at 2 a.m. every day, commuting from his home in Sammamish to downtown Seattle. He currently makes between 200 and 400 long-fermented sourdough bagels daily, by hand and from scratch, with organic ingredients. Right now, customers can pre-order bagels online before picking them up at Cortina Cafe. Ordering requires a two-day lead time, so Rubinstein can plan ahead.
Rubinstein has been perfecting his bagel recipe since 2016. He originally scoped out spaces near his home in Sammamish, but nothing panned out. He then had several false starts on cafe spaces in Seattle before teaming up with Ethan Stowell at Cortina Cafe.
But Rubinstein, who is an artist by training, says his goal was always to run a cafe of his own. He saw an opportunity to “create a cult product” in a city that, at least until recently, didn’t have much of a bagel presence. Now, though, his competition is getting stiffer, with shops like Westman’s Bagel and Coffee, Zylberschtein’s Delicatessen and Bakery, Loxsmith Bagel, and Porkchop and Co. all getting into the game. Rubinstein hopes his bagels will standout in an increasingly crowded field.
“My goal is that people are always delighted by these bagels,” Rubinstein says, “and eventually they can’t be without them.”