The bagel sensation Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen is going to have a gluteny friend next door by early next year. A new bakery, The Rolling Pin, is the brainchild of Rosenberg's current pastry chef, Jay Thomas. If all goes as planned — which doesn't always happen when opening a new business in a building that has sat empty for more than 30 years — the European themed bakery will open its doors early 2016.
Thomas joined Josh Pollack at Rosenberg's when it opened back in August last year with the goal of opening a new bakery in the area. Thomas had too much experience for the position at his bagel shop, said Pollack, having worked at the Brown Palace and Inverness Hotel and Conference Center and taught at Johnson & Wales University. But Thomas has the idea of opening his own place in mind and saw an opportunity to learn from Pollack's oncoming success. Plus he lives a few blocks away and was looking for a lifestyle change. "They say until you can live your dream help someone live theirs. So I was helping with his,” Thomas said, referring to Pollack.
As Rosenberg's popularity grew — or in fact never dwindled after its immediate success — it's been hard for Thomas to find time to make the Jewish and European pastries sold at the bagel shop. He's been working midnight until "whenever they kick me out," usually around 8 a.m. said Thomas. And Rosenberg's needs more baking space to begin catering, which has been put on hold until it can find more space.
“We need more space not just to serve the customers that we’re getting on the weekend but we really want to expand into catering. And we'll be able to have bialys every day and start making bagel balls," Pollack said. But although Rosenberg's will use the space, Pollack made clear this isn't a Rosenberg's expansion. And the two places won't be competing; Pollack said he'll be his first wholesale account.
There's a lot of history associated with this new bakery. Thomas recently found out his great great grandmother was a pie baker in Wisconsin, and the name of the bakery — The Rolling Pin — is in memory of his grandmother who had a one-handled rolling pin that she'd joke was just fine for baking. “It’s in my blood, I was always supposed to be a pastry chef," Thomas said.
The location, which has been vacant for 35 years said Thomas, was formerly the Fairbanks Hotel and Café. It's also been a convenience store and thrift shop. “I've wanted to start a bakery over 30 years," Thomas said. "I love Colorado and Denver history, so this is a great place to put the bakery.” He also will have pie tins from the local Puritan Pie Company, which though closed, still has its engraved signage on a building at 26th and Champa Streets.
Thomas isn't alone in the endeavor; he'll be joined by business partner Michael Martinez, a cake decorator who learned his craft at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School. Martinez is the business brain behind the operation, having owned his own businesses in Colorado and Florida for the past 25 years.
Thomas hopes to open up shop in time for the holidays, but is setting his sights on early 2016, anticipating delays while the landlord renovates the old building.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.