At 11 a.m. on a crisp Sunday morning, hours before Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown, a line of customers trailed out the door at The Bagel Store.
The simply named shop, tucked away in a strip mall at South Monaco Parkway and East Tennessee Avenue, was in the midst of one of its busiest days of the year. On the morning of the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays, people begin to line up outside at 4 a.m. to buy challah from the 40-year-old shop. It’s not just a neighborhood staple — it’s a staple for the entire Jewish community in Denver.
“The Orthodox definitely come here because we are the only place for Orthodox who are strictly kosher,” owner Beth Ginsberg said. “And then we get a lot of Jews that just come here for the style — the Jewish style, the New York style. Our business is probably roughly 25 percent kosher. About 75 percent of our business doesn’t care that we’re kosher, they’re just neighborhood people and people that have heard about us … some way.”
Everything The Bagel Store makes — breads, bagels, challah, pastries, cookies, cakes — is baked from scratch and made fresh daily. What doesn’t sell is donated to the Denver Rescue Mission or sold as day-old goods. The bakery is certified parve kosher, which means there’s no dairy in anything made there. With the exception of the egg bagel, everything is also egg free, which means it’s vegan.
Ginsberg said The Bagel Store sells approximately 2,000 challot on the first day of Rosh Hashanah alone. She expected to sell about 700 on the Friday before. On Yom Kippur, they’ll sell around 800 challot and at minimum, in the store only, about 300 dozen bagels. At minimum.
The store employs 17 people full-time, but on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, she said, they need about 30 people. The High Holidays make running the shop a community affair, with family, friends and former staffers lending a hand.
At some points in the day, the line has been known to stretch out across the vast parking lot in front of The Bagel Store. On this particular Sunday, there were just a few people outside the door at 11 a.m., and the staff and their families were hustling to get them in, out and off to enjoy the New Year.
Musya Eidman was there waiting in line, just like she’s always done for three decades.
“I come every Friday. I’m regular since — I don’t know, 30 years,” she said in a heavy accent. “Usually it is a line, yes. People come — even people who don’t keep Shabbos and don’t keep kosher and stuff — for holidays, always. For holiday, always, always, everybody comes. And they are the best, I tell you. I try other challahs — I like this the best.”
Jay Bluestein is a Brooklyn native and current Heather Gardens resident who moved here 14 years ago. He said he’s been coming to The Bagel Store for the holidays ever since he moved to Denver.
“Because it’s the only place you can get kosher, fresh bread,” he said. “I mean, you can get it at King [Sooper]’s, but it’s the only place you can get kosher, fresh bread that is certified. Not that I’m religious, but it’s just that time of year. And the food is good.”
Longtime Bagel Store patrons like Eidman and Bluestein should be happy to know that little of what they love about The Bagel Store will change as it merges with Rosenberg’s Bagels. Ginsberg said the storefront will be renovated to look more like Rosenberg’s, but it will remain a take-out-only spot. More importantly, certainly, to the generations of loyal customers, The Bagel Store will also remain kosher and keep its name and place in the community.
“So many people that are now young adults who are off into their own life come and they’re like, ‘I grew up on this stuff.’ And it’s really fun introducing the next generation. I see parents come in with their young kids and it’s like the cycle starting again,” Ginsberg said. “We’re incredibly proud of what we do here. We really take pride in that we’re not just making bagels, we’re making an experience.”