The Baker Behind Rubinstein Bagels Launches a Solo Project on the Eastside
Andrew Rubinstein has parted ways with his namesake business, the one that launched in 2019 and grew into one of most well-regarded bagel operations in the city. His destination isn’t yet clear, but it involves a new shop that’s “a little more bespoke.”
The baker officially sold his half of Rubinstein Bagels to Ethan Stowell, who’s been his business partner since the early days. Rubinstein has also launched a nascent business, Hey Bagel, which right now exists mostly on Instagram and in Rubinstein’s vision of serving hot, fresh-baked bagels all day long. He’s scouting sites around the Eastside, to be closer to his home in Sammamish.
The father of three spent the past year supporting his youngest through some significant health issues. Meanwhile, the bagel business he launched in the kitchen of Stowell’s Cortina Cafe grew to two busy shops—on Capitol Hill and near the Spheres—with a third on the way in Redmond. The shortage of staff meant he’d often leave her hospital bed to bake.
“Every time my daughter gets really sick feels like I have these paradigm shifts,” he says. One of those shifts was the realization that managing a growing business doesn’t play to his skills as much as being a hands-on baker. "I struggled being the manager of a large group," he says. "It was a big learning curve."
Still, “Nowhere could any of this [have] happened for me the first time out of the gate without Ethan,” says Rubinstein. “They were crucial to the success. I’m really grateful.”
Rubinstein is busy making plans for a new bagel operation. Hey Bagel will bake all day long. “I want to be pumping out hot bagels throughout the day,” he says. Like their forerunners, Hey Bagel’s specimens will still use sourdough and organic flour, and still be boiled. His current burst of R&D has Rubinstein tinkering with his fermentation methods, and chasing the white whale of bagel-making: those tiny surface blisters that signify excellence within. While Hey Bagel will have a more limited menu than Rubinstein Bagels, its owner is excited to make bialys a central part of the plan…now, all he needs is a location.
He plans to announce some popups on Hey Bagel’s Instagram as he continues his search for baking space. And Rubinstein Bagels will continue operations as usual under the Ethan Stowell Restaurants banner, including that third location, set to open this summer in Redmond.