Most Seattle thing ever? For the past nine months, one of the only ways to get a decent bagel in the city was to DM a guy who used to be in a band. Roan Hartzog, former frontman for the now-defunct garage rock outfit Cabana, is the person behind the mysterious Mt Bagel — a lo-fi operation that has neither a shop nor its own commissary, but still makes some of the most sought-after bagels this side of the Cascades. Since last June, the business only had an Instagram account, with instructions on ordering and a menu displayed via Insta stories (customers paid over Venmo, and deliveries were only on Tuesdays and Fridays). Deliveries were often booked solid for weeks. Today, finally, Mt Bagel launched an official website — and it’s already starting to sell out the month of March.
Hartzog, who originally hails from Jacksonville, started baking back in 2007, and says his bagel efforts were a hobby for a long time, born more out of a frustration for lack of local options, than anything else. “I was like, ‘Why can’t I get a good bagel in this city?’” he recalls (a well-documented complaint in Seattle, with a few notable exceptions). After mixing up a bunch of test batches baked out of a friend’s commissary, he started slowly building a following on Instagram, still keeping his day job at restaurateur Tom Douglas’s bread bakery (the band broke up five years ago), and making bagel deliveries when he had the time. In addition to the nice texture (satisfyingly chewy with a crisp outer crust), Mt Bagel’s offerings are sturdy — holding up even days after first delivery, if properly stored — and the everything variety has well-balanced seasoning. Customers can add cream cheese to the order in flavors such as spicy scallion and date.
Now that the demand has grown — from 5-6 orders to more than 50-60 at a time — Hartzog is looking to get more organized. The website should help. It still has the playful, DIY vibe of its Instagram origins, with a crudely drawn map showing the delivery zone — and a promise to accommodate those outside the lines with options such as “meet up spots, dying wishes/last meals, hefty carrier pigeons … we can figure something out.” It also has the signature Mt Bagel mountain goat logo displayed prominently, which appears on the delivery bags as well. “It was originally unclothed, but at some point I drew it in a unitard for a little more contrast and really got a kick out of that, so I just left it,” Hartzog says. “There might be a costume change down the road.”
Design and digital tweaks aside, don’t expect Hartzog to scout out a permanent location anytime soon. The roaming vagabond lifestyle seems to suit the former touring musician, who recognizes the power of building a fanbase on social media and staying nimble. “It might be nice to avoid shelling out a huge amount of money,” he says of committing to a full-fledged shop. Instead, launching the website is one big step forward. There will also be a pop-up at Full Moon Market on Capitol Hill March 21 and 22 (no pre-order necessary). Next, he plans on expanding delivery days to Wednesdays in April. Then, who knows? Hartzog will just keep rocking.
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Only a few more bagel days in February! I wanted to let you know I’ve got a lot of fun things planned for the spring. New cream cheeses, bagel Wednesday’s, and of course the website which goes live this Friday! I’ve also been getting all my ducks in a row to expand the biz a little bit in order to bake more bagels per week. In March you’ll notice a slight increase to prices. This is to accommodate all that comes with growing a small business. Taxes, rent, licensing etc. They don’t make it easy but we’ll make it happen! Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll see you next delivery day ✨ #seattle #bagels #seattlebagels