‘Proper’ bagels find East Portland home

Find out why those who love ‘real’ bagels will be heading to the Foster-Powell neighborhood soon …

It won’t be long until Leah Orndoff is ready to open her first Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels store, here in the Foster Powell neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Many true aficionados of the “roll with a hole” were deeply saddened when Kettleman’s Bagels – the company credited with reviving “boiled” bagels in Portland – sold out to national chain store operator Einstein Bagel Company.

“Kettleman’s had had a really great product,” reflected the former General Retail Manager for the company, Leah Orndoff. “It’s a lot more labor-intensive to make a boiled bagel – it takes more people, more effort, more time. But it was the product helped them grow to five stores.”

In 2012, Orndoff took a job managing a Gresham area pizza store during the days. But at night, she and two of the laid-off bakers from her former company decided to keep the boiled bagel tradition going in the City of Roses.

“We started renting kitchen space at night, and were making sixty bagels a day for three accounts,” Orndoff recalled. “We thought, ‘This is the greatest thing we’ve ever done!’”.

They came up with the name “Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels”, because “It was weird enough that nobody would forget it. And Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady, teaches Eliza Doolittle how to be a ‘proper’ lady. In this case, we are making ‘proper’ bagels.”

-2 Thanks to bake shop display equipment, given to her by her grandmother who once operated a retail bakery, Leah Orndoff is prepared to open her first Henry Higgins Boiled Bagels store on Foster Road.

Creating a “proper bagel” is all about the process, opined Orndoff. “Our dough ‘proofs’ for 18 to 36 hours, depending on the variety and atmospheric conditions. Then, the bagels spend a little more than a minute in our giant 45-gallon boiler, before being baked.”

Those Portlanders who have learned the difference in taste and texture between a “steamed” and “boiled” bagel demand her product, she says. “We’re now making 2,500 bagels a night, and delivering to eighty shops and delis in the area.”

A couple of weeks ago, Orndoff invited East Portland News into what will soon be the first company-owned retail store for the new business, and she hopes to open it in mid February.

“We’ll be offering 11 varieties of our boiled bagels. We’ll have seven ‘schmears’ (toppings, such as cream cheese), and we’ll offer both breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches.”

Keep an eye on their store’s windows, at 6420 SE Foster Road, across from the Bob White Theater. Or, periodically check their website at CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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