It was nearly two years ago that Frankie Baker, the aptly named owner of Frankie’s NY Bagels, first announced plans to “pass the bagel torch” by finding a new owner and moving on to other adventures.
Operating out of a commercial kitchen at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, the Rochester native had mastered the art of creating classic New York-style bagels, along with a variety of other treats, such as bagel dogs, bialys and an ever-growing variety of sweets. (His vegan donuts are particularly popular.)
Baker failed to find a new torch-bearer back in 2020, though much to his customers’ relief he has kept at it, operating the business single-handedly with reduced hours while continuing to expand his menu.
A couple weeks ago, however, Baker took to Facebook to announce that he was finally moving on. “This has been coming for a while as most of you are aware,” he wrote.
Once again, dedicated patrons worried that they’d soon lose their cheddar jalapeño bagels, their maple bacon walnut donuts, their bagel sandwiches or perhaps the everything bagel with pickle-flavored cream cheese.
One such concerned patron was East Bay transplant Steve Band, whom Baker introduced earlier this week as the next owner of Frankie’s NY Bagels. Here’s the video:
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Baker said he’s “so relieved” to have found someone who wants to take over the business and keep the classic menu alive.
After a bit he passed the phone to Band, whose voice exuded the same enthusiasm he displays in the video above.
“I, like many people in Humboldt County, have come to rely on Frankie’s Bagels for my East Coast bagel fix,” he said. “When I heard it was at risk of disappearing it was too much for me to bear.”
Raised in the East Bay city of Richmond, Band said he has always loved to bake. Still, his wife, who was raised on the East Coast, opened his eyes on a visit to New York City.
“She exposed me to real bagels and my world has never been the same,” he said.
Band added that he’s in a perfect place to switch life paths because his previous career, as political consultant working on field campaigns around the state, was destroyed by the pandemic. Political consultants mostly work remotely these days.
“So this is a very different career, but I’m very excited,” he said.
What do Band and his wife have planned once they take over?
“For the foreseeable future we intend on honoring Frankie’s legacy,” he said. That includes keeping the business name.
“We’re gonna keep all the vegan treats as well as the bialys and the cookies. The bagels are gonna stay the exact same for the foreseeable future. If anything we will be adding things. Because my wife and I are Jewish we’ll probably add rugelach, challah and more Jewish treats. And my wife is vegan, so we’re gonna make sure we keep a steady supply of vegan donuts out there.”
Baker, meanwhile, will be taking a job as a youth prevention specialist with the Humboldt Independent Practice Association. A graduate of the Critical Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies program at Cal Poly Humboldt (née HSU), Baker described his new career as being “kind of like a wellness coach for middle schoolers.”
As Baker trains Band to master his recipes, Frankie’s NY Bagels will be open on Sundays for the remainder this month except for the 28th, when it will be closed. Band plans to officially take the bagel torch in September.