Bubbe's Fine Bagels sells about 6,500 bagels per week.

Editor's note: This story was originally written and published on April 9, 2022. We republished the story on May 6, 2022 to let readers know that the second Bubbe's location is now open.

Becca Groff and Kyle Leuer’s love affair has always involved bagels.

When Becca and Kyle were first dating, months into the pandemic, they would wait in long lines outside of Monsoon Chocolate, waiting for a chance to get a bagel from the Bernie’s Bagels pop-up. “They’d be selling out so quickly,” Kyle said.

“Becca was the crazy one who thought: what if we did that?” he said.

Kyle, a self-described pessimist, started slow, making a few batches at a time in the kitchen at Pizza Luna, where he worked at the time.

“I started playing around in the pizza shop making bagels, mostly for (Becca) and for us to enjoy, and they started coming out pretty good,” he said. “I told the owner Marc about what I was doing, approached him more as a business opportunity: ‘Hey, what if we did a bagel shop?’”

Over a year later, the couple is under way to open the second location of their breakout bagelry, Bubbe’s Fine Bagels, in Joesler Village at 1865 E. River Road. The first Bubbe’s location is at 1101 N. Wilmot Road.

While construction is wrapping up this week at the second location, Bubbe’s is currently hiring staff. They plan to open by the end of the month or early May at the latest.

The Joesler Village spot was slated to become Pizza Luna’s second location, with its original next to Bubbe's on Wilmot. Pizza Luna’s owner, Marc Frankel, is a major investor in Bubbe’s.

When the pizzeria's original spot temporarily shut down for a few months in the middle of construction on the Joesler Village location, all parties agreed it felt organic for Bubbe’s to take over the new space.

“When we were talking about (Bubbe’s) before Marc’s involvement, we were thinking about doing farmers markets, pop-ups,” Becca said. “Who can afford to do this? It’s crazy where we are now.”

Kyle credits their success to Tucson’s food community: “There are some businesses around town with a cult following. Tucson loves locally-done things, curated spaces. We try to do what we know best and not much else. We have a super simple menu. We don’t like all the frills,” he said.

“How does that even happen?” Becca said. “I think the product has spoken for itself, but I’m not sure.” Becca is being humble. Bubbe’s has first-time customers who have never had a bagel from anywhere other than a grocery store. They also have regulars who have lived in more bagel-rich areas, to whom a local bagel shop is a godsend.

Bubbe’s Fine Bagels brings east-coast style bagels to Tucson.

Tucson’s enthusiasm for locally-made bagels only mirrors Becca and Kyle’s: Becca can recall the difference between New York and Montreal-style bagels at the drop of a hat. (Montreal bagels are boiled in honey-laced water; smaller, denser than their southern cousins.) They both love sesame bagels, but Kyle likes punchier toppings, like garlic and everything seasoning.

While they are sometimes worried they’ll get tired of their beloved bread, that hasn’t happened yet. “I’ll get so excited for a batch of bagels that comes out of the oven. No one else cares,” Kyle said. “We’ll cut into it and we’ll be like, look at the crumb of this.”

“There’s nothing more special, delicious and beautiful to me than a classic plain cream cheese bagel,” Becca said. “Tomatoes, salt and pepper on it. Wow, that really does it for me. I eat it every day.”

Bubbe's Fine Bagels is opening a second location in Joesler Village.

By the numbers: Bubbe’s Fine Bagels

  • Average weight of a batch of dough: 175 pounds
  • Number of batches baked on a typical weekend: 3-4
  • Number of 50-pound bags of flour used in a month: 150
  • Number of gallons of water in their kettle used to boil bagels: 60
  • Number of bagels sold per week: 6,500
  • Number of hours dough is fermented at room temperature: 2-3
  • Minimum number of days dough is fermented in their cold box: 2

Bubbe's Fine Bagels

Locations: 1101 N. Wilmot Road and in Joesler Village, 1865 E. River Road

Hours: Wilmot | 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, closed Monday. Joesler | 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday-Sunday, closed Monday-Thursday

For more information, check out their website.

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