Bruegger's Bagels comes back to downtown


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A round and chewy culinary delight will soon once again return to downtown Iowa City. Bruegger’s Bagels will open its doors on Oct. 14 after a more than two-year absence.

The popular bagel shop located on Iowa Avenue burned down on Sept. 24, 2011, and the building was razed soon after. Renovations are nearly complete, and the store’s management is eager to return to the space the establishment had occupied for years. Based in Burlington, Vt., the chain celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Jay Kasparian, the associate field marketing manager of Bruegger’s, said that the process of rebuilding took longer than expected. “In general, the process takes eight to nine months,” Kasparian said. “There’s been a ton of buzz, and it’s a great spot for us.”

The grand reopening of the store was originally set for Friday, but that has been pushed to early next week, only the latest in numerous delays since the project began. Jeff Davidson, the director of the city’s Planning and Community Development Department, previously told The Daily Iowan another source of delay was back-and-forth negotiations with the company, which originally wanted the new location to be a one-story building.

Current city zoning codes state all new downtown developments must be at least two stories. Bruegger’s ultimately chose to restore the building to its historical size and shape to keep with its commitment to being a neighborhood bakery, and there have been a few changes in the design and the menu.

George Mello, the regional vice president of operations at Bruegger’s, said the restored building is going to have a more “New York-style feel” to it. He said exposed brick walls and cement flooring will contribute to this atmosphere.

“Before we always had tile or rug, but now we’re back to the New York style,” Kasparian said. Three large posters adorn the walls of the restaurant. Each poster highlights the ingredients of bagels, cream cheese and espressos, as well as how Bruegger’s chooses its ingredients and prepares the food.

The new Bruegger’s will join the two others in the area, one on Riverside Drive and one in Coralville. “It’ll help get our name out there,” said Douglas Tobin, a manager at the Riverside Bruegger’s.

Tobin said, while a slight drop in business is expected, he has no worries about business. Bruegger’s has also upgraded equipment and created a more open baking area so that customers can see their bagels as they are made. An espresso station and barista were also added.

Fresh-cracked eggs will now be used in the preparation instead of the frozen egg patties that had been used before. Mello said bagels will be made in smaller quantities more often during the day to preserve their freshness and keep them warm for customers.

The building has more seating available both indoors and outdoors, as well as free WiFi. “We saw it as an opportunity to market something we haven’t done before,” Kasparian said.

On opening day, Bruegger’s will give to the first 30 people in line a 2013 bottomless mug, which may be used for free coffee, tea or soft drinks every day through Dec. 31. The 2014 mugs will go on sale on Oct. 30. Kasparian said that he was most looking forward to getting to see the larger community again, after two years of customers asking when Bruegger’s would reopen.

“We’re excited to get back open with all of that hype,” Kasparian said. “We’re ready to deliver great bagels, great service, and a great customer experience.”

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