The restaurant industry community in Tacoma and Seattle is shocked and heartbroken after the sudden death of Howdy Bagel co-owner Jake Carter, who was killed in New Orleans on Friday, January 5. He was 32.
Carter and his husband and co-owner Daniel Blagovich were vacationing in New Orleans when they were mugged in the Marigny area, according to the New Orleans Police Department. Shots were fired, the suspect fled, and Carter died on the scene. No arrests have been made, although the NOPD is investigating the homicide.
Last May, Carter and Blagovich opened the super-popular Western-themed bagel shop and all-ages queer space on South Tacoma Way to block-long lines and rave reviews. A Texas native, Carter lived and worked in Seattle for many years, including a stint as a barista at Olympia Coffee and a gig with an org that finds housing for refugees. He and Blagovich were well-known among the various farmer’s markets in Seattle and Tacoma, where they sold their bagels prior to opening the shop in Tacoma last year. “We found the most love when we sold at markets in Tacoma,” Carter told me last summer, when explaining why they chose to move the bakery operations south from Seattle.
Carter and Blagovich started out in the bagel biz during the COVID-19 lockdown, beginning in 2021, when many others were focusing on watercolors or sourdough starts, and their bagels were an instant hit. Howdy Bagel focuses on creating “Tacoma-style bagels,” using flour, eggs, cheese, and meats from local producers in and around Pierce County. Howdy also provides a crucial LGBTQ-friendly hangout space in Tacoma, a place with not many dedicated daytime queer spaces for all ages. The couple tied the knot in September 2022.
“Jake was a deeply loving man. He approached every being with warmth, care, and humility, and he was adored by every person who had the privilege of being around his magical glow and presence,” Brian Hibbard, who owns Field Bar and Bottle Shop on Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue and supplied wine for the couple’s wedding, tells Eater Seattle. “The vision and action of Howdy is one of the deepest, most tangible gifts of love to Tacoma and queer folks in a truly welcoming, beautiful space for all.”
Carter was a beloved figure in the Tacoma and Seattle communities, an absolute ray of sunshine by all accounts, and the violent news is hitting friends and family hard. At the shop on South Tacoma Way, an impromptu memorial for Carter was quickly accumulating flowers and cards on Monday, the day after the news was posted on Howdy Bagel’s Instagram account. (The shop is closed for the time being.) Friends have organized a GoFundMe campaign to benefit Blagovich and the Howdy team, and as of Monday night more than $184,000 had been donated. The GoFundMe campaign asks folks not to contact Blagovich and to give him space, and to instead to find support with one another.