Walking into a Brooklyn Water Bagel, you wouldn’t necessarily know that the breakfast spot’s founder actually lives in Boca Raton.
The decor pays homage to Brooklyn, New York and the words Brooklyn are plastered everywhere. But the concept didn’t start in New York. The first location launched in 2009 in Delray Beach by Steve Fassberg, who grew up eating New York bagels.
Now, the company has 25 location in six states around the country.
New York was the inspiration for the popular bagel place. As a kid, Fassberg would travel from Massapequa, New York to Miami to visit his grandparents. With him, he would bring New York bagels.
His grandparents insisted the quality of the bagels in Florida were subpar because of the quality of water in Florida didn’t compare to the water in New York. To them, New York water and its properties created that perfectly crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside combination.
That water concept clicked with Fassberg years late at a Thanksgiving dinner. In between then, he worked in mortgage financing by day and a restauranteur by night. He saved about $80,000 by the time he was 21 to open up a deli, the Fassberg Kosher Deli in Flushing, Queens. It was furnished with booths made in Fassberg’s own garage by him and his friends. It opened in April of 1983. In 1985, at the age of 25, Fassberg sold the deli for over a million dollars.
He continued working in investment banking, all the while opening and selling delicatessen and restaurant concepts. Years later, he got the idea to bring the perfect bagel to Florida through the water.
He said he spent months researching how to make the perfect bagel, which involves using the right oven, temperature, baking stone and water.
With the help of various water treatment companies and experts, Fassberg discovered what went into the ideal water and what had to go out. He utilized a 14-step system that purified the Florida water by methods like reverse osmosis and reduction of ions, removing from it the chlorine and ammonia present and neutralizing its pH level, among other processes, that would render it “Brooklynized™”.
Once Fassberg’s water formula was in place, he worked on menu options, incorporating the Brooklyn design and created the Cubsta “iced coffee” cubes. His go-to order for breakfast is a Brooklyn Water Bagel Whole Wheat Sunflower bagel with sliced nova salmon, tomato, scallion cream cheese or an avocado omelet.
He hasn’t stopped creating. Most recently, he created a “Banini,” which combines a panini and a bagel. There are five different banini menu items including a BLT and a monte cristo.
“I crafted the world’s first Banini – a union between a hot fresh pressed panini and bagel – with the goal of creating a cutting-edge proprietary lunch menu item that would incorporate the consistency of our beloved bagel in a non-traditional format,” Fassberg said.