They come from far and wide to enjoy a bagel made at Katz Bagel Bakery.
The name “Katz” has stood for excellence in the bagel-making business. Since 1938 customers have been coming to the store at the corner of Park Street and Congress Avenue to buy the best.
Just ask Boston radio personalities Eddie Andelman and Joe Ligotti or some of our local dignitaries like City Manager Jay Ash, who grew up on nearby Cottage Street, or Josh Resnek, vice president of the Independent Newspaper Group. They share a common bond: a love of Katz bagels.
Resnek and his family have been coming to Katz Bakery each week for 60 years.
“Katz’s bagels are the only bagels that I eat,” said Resnek. “There is nothing better than a fresh Katz’s bagel and a nice early Sunday morning discussion with Richie.”
“Richie” is Richard Katz, baker, owner, and personable spokesman for the bakery. It is he who has carried on the Katz bagel-making tradition, taking over the operations of the business from his father Harry.
The question that Katz fans want to ask is: What makes Katz bagels so delicious to eat and why have customers been flocking to the store for the last 73 years?
“We’re just good at what we do and we have a good reputation,” said Katz proudly. “It’s not rocket science to make a bagel but it’s rocket science to make a good one and we make good ones, but I’m not going to give away my secrets.”
Katz did reveal that “we do boil them, dry them and bake them like everybody else,” and that the ingredients are “all natural – no artificial ingredients here.”
What’s the most popular of all the varieties of Katz bagels?
“Plain is the most popular,” he said.
Longtime customers said Katz’s two varieties of onion bagels are unmatched in the industry.
“We make two kinds of onion bagels – onion outside and onion inside – that nobody else makes,” said Katz. “It’s kind of a specialty of the house. The onion outside is like a bialy with a pocket in the middle and on the onion inside, the onions are mixed in the dough.”
Katz said 30 years ago he started making other baked goods to complement his popular bagel trade. “We began making some little pastries, cookies, cheesecakes, half moons, whoopee pies, challahs and bubkes,” said Katz.
Katz Bagel Bakery also gets credited for inventing the pizza bagel in the 1970s. “Nobody makes pizza bagels like we make them,” said Katz. “It’s not a secret except we put a little more time and effort into it than most places.”
He said his youngest son Jeremy, who oversees the front counter, brought the concept of the bagel dog to the Chelsea bakery. “Jeremy saw bagel dough wrapped in a hot dog and he said ‘we should try that.”
“We use a special recipe dough and we ship the hot dogs in from Chicago – Vienna Beef which are probably the best commercial hot dogs in the country,” said Katz. “The bagel hot dogs are awesome and we sell a lot of those.”
Katz said his bakery is not “a fancy bagel bakery.”
“Our motto is, ‘people come in here and buy and they take them home,” said Katz. “You don’t sit down here and eat. We’d like to do that but we just don’t have the space.”
In addition to his son Jeremy, another son, Jimmy, is also a key component of the bakery’s bagel production and its continuing success. Legendary employee David Labovich, an outstanding candlepin bowler, has worked at the store for more than 40 years.
“David is a hard worker, loyal, and honest,” said Katz. “Everybody asks, ‘Where’s David?’ if he’s not here. David has been here a long time.”
Approaching 70, Richard Katz shows no signs of slowing down and that’s great news for the thousands of customers who have made Katz Bagel Bakery the cherished institution it is in this city.