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When Josh Pollack opened Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen just over a year ago, there was a reason he banked on success: “I was my target customer,” he says. Turns out, there were a lot of East Coast transplants like New Jersey-born Pollack hankering for a decent bagel in the Mile High City (and droves of Coloradans who were ready for the “roll with a hole” revolution).
Perhaps just as key to Rosenberg’s success is Pollack’s innate understanding of business. He’s a warm and friendly guy, smiling and shaking hands with regulars as they pass through the bustling dining room, but make no mistake—he’s also a shrewd businessman. After a year of staggering growth at the Five Points shop, Pollack and Co. are working on a string of new projects: The Rolling Pin, a European bakery next door (spearheaded by Rosenberg’s pastry chef Jay Thomas and his partner Michael Martinez), a second location of Rosenberg’s for Aurora’s upcoming Stanley Marketplace, a frozen bagel line for retail, and the City Pretzel Co., a mobile pretzel tuk tuk that should take to Denver’s streets sometime in September. We caught up with the busy entrepreneur so he could give us some of the delicious details.
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5280: Tell us about the pretzel cart, and why you decided to house the business in a tuk tuk rather than a more traditional food truck.
JP: A tuk tuk is a three-wheeled motorized vehicle; they’re commonly seen on the streets of Asia. It’s a very eye-catching alternative to a food truck. They’re pretty expensive, and at first we didn’t know if we were going to be able to do it. We wanted to think of a way to do something other than just bagels with it, so we settled on pretzels. We’ll also be able to use it for Rosenberg’s events by swapping out the signage, so this way we’ll get a little more use out of it.
We’ve been dialing in the pretzels for a while now. As with the bagels, we took inspiration from the East Coast and the pretzel vendors all over street corners in New York and Philly. We’ll be using the same mineralized water that we do for the bagels. We don’t have the menu set yet, but we are looking at starting with three pretzels and five sauces, including a few mustards and a cheese dip.
Meanwhile we continue to get better and better at Rosenberg’s. With the new bakery [the Rolling Pin], we’ll have more kitchen space but also an avenue to grow our pastry offerings. And something I’m excited about is that we just took some of the core members of our staff to New York City. Like Frasca and Barolo have done, I wanted to take them to where the culture originated and go to some of the places that inspired me. I wanted them to be able to experience it firsthand.
Bonus: It’s safe to say that Denverites will probably be sharing the road with more tuk tuks over the next few years. eTuk USA has begun manufacturing these golf-carts-on-steroids in a RiNo warehouse. The eco-friendly trikes are the first street-legal, electric tuk tuks in the United States, and they can be built for personal or commercial use. The company is working on a tuk tuk taxi service for shuttling passengers around Denver. In the meantime, look out for Bhakti Chai’s bright orange model (affectionately known as “Ginger”), which is currently on a nation-wide promotional tour.