A Banini, you ask? Certainly. The magnificent union of a bagel and a hot fresh pressed panini. It’s not only brilliant, but it’s delicious! I was invited for a tasting of a variety of banini, amongst other delicious items at the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company, the brand behind this creation, at their Fifth Avenue Shops location on Federal Highway in Boca Raton.
The Aha Moment
The aha moment struck one fateful Thanksgiving dinner when Steve Fassberg realized the recipe for success had been there all along. The seeds for Brooklyn Water Bagel and replicating that New York bagel were actually planted early on in his childhood. For Fassberg, creating the ideal bagel began the moment it clicked: “It’s all about the water.”
At the age of 13, Brooklyn-born Steve Fassberg trekked from Massapequa, New York to Miami, Florida, hauling bags full of NY bagels in the plane’s overhead compartment. He was bringing the Big Apple staples to his grandparents, whom upon seeing Fassberg exclaimed not “hello,” but “did you bring the bagels?!” Fassberg’s grandparents hadn’t eaten a good one since leaving New York and it was because the quality of water in Florida, they reasoned, didn’t match that of the New York water they had been accustomed to. New York water and its properties created that perfectly crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside combination.
The bagel visionary, a larger than life personality, cut his teeth in the world of entrepreneurship earlier than most. During the day, he poured his hours into banking and working with mortgage financing. At night he moonlighted as a restaurateur. By the age of only 21, he had saved up $80,000, just enough to open his very first deli. The Fassberg Kosher Deli in Flushing, Queens, furnished with booths made in Fassberg’s own garage by him and his friends, was opened in April of 1983 to huge success. In 1985, at the age of 25, Fassberg sold the deli for over a million dollars, marking the first of his many highly successful ventures in the restaurant industry.
It’s All About the Water
The visionary continued his career in investment banking, all the while opening and selling a roster of fruitful delicatessen and restaurant concepts. One Thanksgiving dinner, a new idea struck. The phrase “It’s all about the water” hit home once again and Fassberg dove into the chance create the perfect bagel, right here in Florida.
Brooklyn Water Bagel didn’t spring to life right away. Fassberg dedicated months of research to discovering and creating the perfect bagel, which involved not only the right oven, temperature and baking stone, but also the right water. New York pizza and bagels are so good, he discovered, because of the water. It was the only thing in baking that seemingly couldn’t be kept consistent everywhere, until then.
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™”.
Monte Cristo fresh-roasted turkey, ham, melted Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing
Chicken/Turkey BLT fresh-roasted chicken or turkey, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato
Development of Concept
Once Fassberg’s water formula was in place, it was time to create the concept which would support a world class bagel product. The next few months were focused on testing menu opinions, Brooklyn design elements and of course the creation of Cubsta “iced coffee” cubes. This is a real treat. Be sure to stop in and try one of their iced coffees using these special coffee ice cubes. You’ll be hooked for sure!
Breaking Bread with Larry
After being open only a short time in Delray Beach, Florida, Fassberg had wild success by virtue of the first authentic New York bagel produced outside New York. Armed only with a really great recipe for a bagel and a shared passion for Brooklyn, he was able to land the attention of iconic television and radio host Larry King. Fassberg flew to Los Angeles to meet with King, who couldn’t believe the bagel he was eating was made outside New York. By 2010, moved by Fassberg’s passion for Brooklyn and creating a product so well thought out and unique, King signed on to be Brooklyn Water Bagel’s first franchisee and national spokesperson.
Now, the company has 25 location in 6 states around the country, including Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, California, Georgia and Massachusetts. In addition to featuring authentic Brooklyn-style bagels, The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel menu includes egg sandwiches, deli sandwiches, omelets and muffins along with a variety of farm-sourced and artisan-roasted coffee blends.
For more info on the company, check out their website.
They are located at: 2250 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (561) 206-6821
They are open every day from 6am – 3pm.
I want to thank my friends at The Gab Group and Josh and Joe at the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company for having myself and my companion in to try out this lovely assortment. Thumbs up on food and hospitality. We will be back!