Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Food: The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.

For the sake of bagel lovers everywhere, let's hope that the Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. has success in its franchising endeavors. That's because the nascent Delray-based chain offers up perhaps the best mass-market bagels ever: big, boiled-then-baked rings with chewy exteriors and soft interiors. They handily beat the "bagels" sold by big bakery chains like Einstein Bros. and Panera; instead of being a donut-shaped piece of bread, these bagels are more akin to those made by a traditional Jewish deli.

According to BWBC, the bagels are made possible by an elaborate water filtration and mineral addition system that purportedly generates a perfect copy of the municipal water of Brooklyn. Though I agree that New York City tap water tastes great, I have the feeling the whole thing is a gimmick more than anything else. But hey, if that gimmick helps these guys sell more real-deal bagels around the country, I'm all for it.

The bagel prices are decent (a buck per bagel, regardless of variety, $5 for a half-dozen bagels), but the more elaborate menu items are on the expensive side (the lunch bagel sandwiches all hover around $6 or $7). Aside from bagels and bagel-related sandwiches, BWBC offers a full line of beverages (soft drinks, various coffees, and egg cream made with Fox's U-bet chocolate syrup) and killer potato pancakes.

BWBC uses the filtered water in its coffee, soft drinks, and ice machines, as well as bottling it up and selling it separately for $1 a bottle. In terms of franchise potential, I think the reliance on a space and labor-intensive water filtration system might be problematic. Krispy Kreme has the same problem; that conveyor belt deep fryer looks fantastic and makes great donuts, but Dunkin' Donuts' ship-in-the-donuts approach is more adaptable to retail locations. Hopefully BWBC can scale down the concept.

2/4 stars


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