The real thing

For a long time, decades really, you couldn't get a bagel in Portland. People sold things that they were calling bagels, but they were just round buns. To be a bagel, it had to be boiled, and no one was doing that, at least not on any scale.

Things changed in the 21st Century as a local outfit called Kettleman's started selling real bagels. It was an instant success, but the guy who owned it cashed out by selling to the infamous Einstein (a.k.a. Noah's) Bagels, which made only those bun things. With the dough trucked in from Colorado, no less. They put all the schmears on them, but they were still fake.

There was a Kettleman location, which became an Einstein, on Northeast Broadway, a nice walk from our house. We were bummed, but not the least bit surprised, when it closed in a matter of months from the corporate takeover. People in Portland wanted the real thing, or nothing.

But eventually a guy named Rick Spielman took over the space and brought back real bagels, and all was well in the world again, or at least in this neck of the woods.

I didn't ever meet Spielman, but I have eaten many of his products, which always tasted better after I had walked, not driven, to the shop to get them. For a while they were making a variety with golden raisins and fennel, and those were especially good, but I never had a bad bagel from there. And so I'm saddened to read that he has passed on, at age 76. He was a former college professor who taught political science – who knew?

He gave us gifts for which we are grateful.


  1. Rick was a great & good person. Had many wonderful conversations with him at his shops on Division. A big, big heart. Superb bagels, coffee, and much more. So glad to see your tribute here, Jack.

  2. The walk to Spielman’s is usually worth the reward. The exception is when they’re out of your favorite bagel.


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