Joshua Pollack, a self-professed "Jersey boy" from Bergen County, came to Colorado in 2002 to attend the University of Colorado Boulder. He liked the state, but missed the bagels from back home.
He was convinced that Colorado-made bagels could be more than just bready rings, though, and after other entrepreneurial endeavors, he decided to go to culinary school while taking post-graduate business classes. He also spent time in New York City learning the bagel trade and testing the water there before tinkering with Colorado’s to replicate the mineral content of the Big Apple’s H20.
The resulting bagels proved exquisite and addictive, with a tender crumb and a delicate skin providing equal parts crackle and chew. In 2014, after a short stint selling them at the Galvanize co-working space in the Golden Triangle, Pollack opened Rosenberg’s Bagels & Deli in a long-vacant building at 725 East 26th Avenue in Five Points.
The bagels were a revelation to some and a nostalgic taste for others, and the deli was a hit from the start.
Since then, Pollack and his Bridge & Tunnel Restaurant Group have opened several other eateries, including a second Rosenberg's at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora; Famous Original J's, a pizzeria two doors down from the original Rosenberg's; and Lou's Italian specialties, an Italian deli with oversized sandwiches, handmade pasta and other specialties at 3357 Downing Street. Bridge & Tunnel also partnered with the forty-year-old Bagel Store in 2017, creating Rosenberg's Kosher at 942 South Monaco Parkway. And last year, Pollack gave Denver a sweet treat with Sherry's Soda Shoppe.
Now Pollack has set his sights on University Hill in Boulder, where the latest location of Rosenberg's Bagels & Deli could open at 1262 College Avenue by mid-April.
"This will be the biggest Rosenberg's yet, but most of it will be kitchen," Pollack says.
The expansive kitchen is needed, he explains, because like the Rosenberg's at Stanley Marketplace, this one will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering bagels and other daytime eats from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. before switching over to Rosenberg's After Dark from 3 to 11 p.m. The After Dark menu will include pizzas from the Famous Original J's menu and subs just like those at Lou's Italian, making efficient kitchen layout essential to the design of the new space.
Pollack had to retrofit his kitchen at the Stanley when he launched the After Dark concept there, and he learned valuable lessons through trial and error, he notes. This time, he'll be opening with separate ovens for the bagels and pizza, rather than trying to shoehorn a second oven into an existing layout. Since the new outpost will also serve as a hub for catering and delivery throughout Boulder County, high-volume production was also part of the equation. "Your bubble grows with all the demand for delivery," Pollack says.
Boulder had always been part of Pollack's plan for expanding his bagel empire. "I knew I would do it, because the idea came up when I was in Boulder for college," he recalls, explaining that the combination of University of Colorado students (many coming from the East Coast), locals and Boulder's Jewish community make for a great customer base. And he's found that college students are also great employees, because they're eager to learn and come with few preconceptions about restaurant work. Pollack has maintained a relationship with his alma mater, completing an entrepreneurship program in 2012 before opening his own business and then offering mentoring for other budding entrepreneurs (whether bagel makers or not).
Rosenberg's will occupy former retail space in a building that was originally the Flatirons Theatre, which opened in 1950. Most recently, a cyclery and a vape shop were located in the adjacent spaces that Bridge & Tunnel is combining into one restaurant. Pollack says that his new landlord, Garret Baum of Urban Frontiers, had been interested in bringing a traditional New York-style deli to Boulder for a long time and was "very persistent" in signing him.
Still, the restaurateur was initially hesitant about the location because an agreement with the surrounding neighborhood states that restaurants must close by 11 p.m. Pollack says he understands ceasing alcohol sales at that time, but hopes to work with the neighborhood association to be able to serve food later, as a way to offer a calm and quiet alternative for those leaving nearby bars.
Rosenberg's will have a full liquor license, and Pollack is quick to point out his lineup of Bloody Mary cocktails, all designed to complement the bagel sandwiches. There's a classic Bloody Mary mix made in conjunction with the Real Dill that includes brine from the Ba-Tampte half-sour pickles the restaurant uses and an everything-seed rim; a Pastrami-style Bloody Mary that comes with a deep-fried pastrami cube; and a gravlax Bloody Mary served with a bite of house-cured salmon.
The Boulder deli will initially be open only for takeout and delivery; the original Rosenberg's at 725 East 26th Avenue has also put a hold on indoor dining during the pandemic. The large, airy space at the Stanley Rosenberg's has been more conducive to seating guests indoors at limited capacity, Pollack explains, but the Five Points location lacks enough indoor space to allow seating at tables while takeout customers wait for their food out of the elements.
But from the start, the Boulder Rosenberg's will offer the same bagels that put the original on the Denver map. There will also be housemade pastries and breads, matzoh ball soup, potato knishes, smoked fish and other Jewish deli favorites.
And, as at the other two locations, consistency will be of primary importance, Pollack promises: "You can't come to Rosenberg's in Boulder and get a different bagel than in Denver — no one would put up with that."
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