A flagship with the potential for national franchises

Posted on April 4, 2022 at 6:35 p.m. by West Side Rag

Ryan Klepper (center) and staff. Photographs by Ed Hersh.

By Ed Hersh

Storied H&H Bagels, which closed 80th on Broadway in 2011 and reopened on Columbus Avenue between 85th and 86th streets in 2016, underwent another restart and reopened the Columbus site on Monday with a major renovation and a new concept.

The store was closed for several weeks for construction work and now features new brighter lighting, new tiled floors and walls, new tables and chairs and an airy and friendly atmosphere. Modern high-tech bagel ovens have been installed. The menu has been simplified but still offers a wide variety of bagels as well as spreads and salads. And on opening day, there was a steady stream of local residents and students on lunch breaks who came to both eat and experience the new digs.

But the biggest change, according to Ryan Klepper, the company’s recently appointed director of retail operations (and former operations director of Tavern on the Green), is that this store will now serve as a flagship for “potentially franchising H&H Across the country.”

JD Gross, Director of Wholesale Operations (left) and Ryan Klepper.

When planning the renovation and food service, Klepper said, “The focus now is on four things: speed, efficiency, cleanliness and friendliness.” Food prep has been revamped to look more like an assembly line, where you select your bagel and your order is then prepared in front of you…like Subway, Sweetgreen or Chipotle.

“What if bagels just replaced burritos?” asked Klepper. He told us it’s designed so you can see your food being prepared and give additional instructions to those placing your order. “The goal is to take your order and fill it in 5 minutes. You have to be able to process orders quickly even when there is an emergency.

In fact, on this opening day, the friendly and gregarious Klepper would frequently interrupt our conversation to greet customers and ask, “How long did it take you to receive your order?”

Of course, it no longer belongs to the original H&H on Broadway, which, following several bankruptcies, spun off to create “H&H Midtown East” years ago. These owners operate this store and another on 2nd Avenue. They bought the rights in 2018 to use the simple name “H&H Bagels”, which this store carries.

Klepper says he is excited to be reopened after the pandemic and to invest in this new space. It is currently open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but he says they will consider extending those hours if business warrants. And one day, we may see H&H Bagels appear in other cities.

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