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Capitol Hill’s Bagel Deli latest old-timer to exit 15th Ave E

"The Bagel Deli Bulldogs - 1992" (Image: Bagel Deli)

“The Bagel Deli Bulldogs – 1992” (Image: Bagel Deli)

Abbasolomon shared the bad news in this CHS community post

Abbasolomon shared the bad news in this CHS community post

Another 15th Ave E old-timer will exit the sometimes sleepy — and increasingly active — Capitol Hill commercial village.

A sign hung at the Bagel Deli announced that Sunday was the final day of business for the bagelry after 33 years serving Capitol Hill.

We’ll try to follow up with owner Dale Jones about the decision to shutter and the history of the deli. Known for its straightforward take on its role as both a provider of bagels and a simple place to get a sandwich not too far from Group Health, the deli survived into a new era on an increasingly upgraded business strip.

The most recent example of turnover on 15th came a few blocks toward Volunteer Park where old school North Hill Bakery was squeezed out by rising rents and is being replaced by decidedly new school Nuflour gluten-free bakery, continuing a more than 80-year history of baking at the address. Also opening in 2014 will be the new — and overhauled if not improved — Canterbury as a partnership of Pike/Pine nightlife and restaurant entrepreneurs takes over the space. Another transformation has carried forward the old home of Horizon Books into a new-era — and beautiful — retail experience in (CHS advertiser) Ada’s Technical Books. Meanwhile, this central stretch of the street has seen an injection of new energy in recent years as big names like Ethan Stowell have moved in and new 15th favorites like The Wandering Goose have been hatched. And a four-story apartment project lurks in the future replacing dearly departed Chutney’s at 15th and Mercer.

Old school (Image: Bagel Deli)

Old school (Image: Bagel Deli)

Not all of the old-timers have stood idly by on the changing street. In 2012, Coastal Kitchen unveiled a significant makeover of its space as it marked 20 years in business on the street. Neighborhood businesses have also rallied together to form a merchants association as the opportunities and challenges in the district mount.

As for the Bagel Deli, we’ll have to wait to learn more from its owner about the closure. Capitol Hill’s bagel needs will continue to be served by an Einstein Brothers outlet on Broadway and the higher concept Eltana wood-fired bagels at 12th and Pine. For now, we’ll leave you with how the deli described itself. Like any good marketing, it seemed to be mostly true:

We believe in keeping things simple. A bagel is not fussy, a bagel is not gourmet. A bagel is wholesome and simple. It is the irresistible combination of wheat, yeast, sugar, salt, and malt, and not much else, in the perfect portable portion. Our bagels are crafted by hand, in-house, in small batches.

(Image: Bagel Deli)

(Image: Bagel Deli)

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62 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s Bagel Deli latest old-timer to exit 15th Ave E

  1. Oh no! Bagel Deli had some of the best bagels outside New York, sold unpretentiously and affordably. Sucks to see them go. The next nearest place I’ve found that’s any good is Blazing Bagels, and that’s down at Safeco Field (no game ticket required).

    • Blazing Bagel is not a real bagel it is not boiled as for Einsteins,another large corporate chain out of Cali.
      Your closest local real bagel now will be Eltana,but get ready for a smaller bagel and sticker shock.

  2. That really sucks. Bagel Deli was by far the best bagel in Cap Hill, because they boiled their bagels. Einstein is not a suitable alternative.

    Luckily I work by Pike Place Market where the bagel stand has kettle boiled bagels. But still, this makes me sad.

  3. Bah, sorry to see them go. I remember when they first opened I would stop weekly on my way home from my cap hill times route. Their product was good and consistent. Best of luck on their next venture!

  4. That’s too bad. I’m envisioning a not-too-far-off future in which I can’t afford any of the businesses near my apartment. I like the expensive places too, but we need a healthy mix of price levels.

  5. I was in today and an employee said the owner was told the day after Christmas that there would be a 60% rent hike as of January 1st or they could leave. Employees were told yesterday, the day before closing.

  6. Not all progress is good. This is just sad, first pike/pine and now 15th, soon the entire hill will be unrecognizable from buildings to known businesses I used to haunt. Best bagel and no nonsense service on the hill.

  7. Nooooo! I love this place! Best bagels in the city! Not the huge monstrosities passing as bagels at most places. I’m so sad. I’ve been going there once a month or so for years! Now I’ll never fill up my last punch cards for free bagels.

  8. I hate to see a local business close, but these were NOT good bagels by NYC standards. Not by a mile. They never managed to get the right amount of chew on the crust. If you want a New York style bagel in this town you have trek up to Grateful Bread in Wedgwood. Good stuff. Or stay on the Hill, head to Eltana and learn to live with Montreal style; they’re fine.

  9. Say it isn’t so! So sad to see them go and especially without any notice to get a last batch. Loved the unpretentious atmosphere which is very NY. Loved the friendly staff. The bagels were good period. I will miss Bagel Deli. Many great times with my kiddos over a bagel and lemonade.

    Not to start a bagel war, but IMHO Elana’s are great, but only if you eat them the same day – they go stale way too fast. Blazing Bagels anew Einstein’s are disappointing. Bagel Oasis are good.

    We’ve resorted to baking our own bagels…

  10. I was going to first make a remark about mispelling “Capitol” on the taped up sign announcing the closing. But then, after reading the comments and thinking about it further, perhaps “Capital” is more appropriate with this situation and similar going across the hill…

  11. For many years, beginning in 1993, the Bagel Deli was the center of my universe. I would begin my day with an early run, then to the BD for their breakfast special. I would sit by the window and watch 15th come to life. The only other people would be a full table of four who would be there at the same time each morning. One day, after passing their table for coffee refills, I was invited to join them, included among them were future friends, clients and artists that have graced my life since then.
    I have had the pleasure of knowing Hank, the previous owner and Dale and his family and have marveled at their ability to employ such a loving,gentle, friendly and devoted group of employees witnessing and sharing our lives, together.
    Saying goodbye to this charming place brings great sadness.
    I am sorry for a new Hill that may never know the comfort of a cozy, quiet, delicious, reasonably priced deli.

    • And I probably waited on you. I got hired there (with an amazing crew) in October of 1993. In fact, if it wasn’t for Hank, I probably wouldn’t even be living in Seattle right now. This place has always been dear to my heart and I hate to see it go.

    • I was one of Hank and Dale’s early hires after they bought the place in the early 90’s and the dynamic between the Deli and the regulars was fantastic. They are great guys and Dale’s work ethic is second to none. I was lucky to be a part of it. I apologize to all the folks that had to drink my horrific lattes.

  12. Terrible news. I am actually in this picture. The great Capital Hill Bulldogs coached by Mark Snyder.

    The Manhatten Bagel sandwhich was legendary.

    Any other Bulldogs out there?

    Murphy Twins? Carl Oloson?

  13. Sad to hear this. I used to take my kids here pretty often when we first moved to Cap Hill. My then 3-5 yr-old son would be excited about picking out his own juice and chips while we waited for our bagels. And the kids loved to sit by the window and look down at the sidewalk watching folks walk by, and point out the odd posters on the telephone pole outside (is that weird ghost-like cartoon still there, up high on the pole?).

  14. As a native of Manhattan, (but a seattleite for the past 25 years) I can say that this place was the ONLY place you could get a good bagel in the city.

  15. Maybe Amazon can deliver a large order of bagels to Seattle daily from each of the 5 NYC ‘subdivisions’ (Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island) and we can let all the picky transplants educate us on the best bagel qualities.

  16. Nooooo… not the Bagel Deli.
    The last of the cool ‘ol 15th places. Linda Derschang probably has the lease already.
    Why is Coastal Kitchen still open??…over-priced greasy plates for too many years. It’s like the old Doghouse, it didn’t matter how the food was or bad the place smelled, it was still the Grandparent’s favorite.

  17. I’m so sad about this–have been going there for 21 years!
    It’s like losing a friend.
    I know that nothing is permanent but…..being priced out of 15th really sucks.

    I felt the same way when Half price books quit due to rising rent….and that space is still empty!

  18. So disappointed to walk up to the Bagel Deli today for lunch and see that it was closed down? what? oh no! I stop in there for lunch once a week. ( Didn’t even have to place an order – they knew what I wanted ) . I love that place. Great bagels a friendly staff and a mellow place to sit down – listen to cool music and read the newspaper or visit friends for lunch or just unwind. Every now and then I would buy bagels and their delicious cream cheeses for the Radiology department staff at GHC on special occasions – or just because. Their breakfast bagels were so good!!
    I will miss the Bagel Deli.
    This was a true treasure on the hill. Too bad we can’t subsidize this little business like we do for the extortionists at the Big B.

  19. As a baker for the deli under Dale and Hank when I was 19 years old, I can attest to the devotion they had to the product, employees and most of all to the community. After reading this article I’ve realized that one of my last sensory connections to the Seattle of my youth is no longer there. I still think about a fresh pumpernickel bagel with mayo, tomato, and swiss cheese at 3AM, twenty years after my last one.
    Good luck Dale and all the Jones!

    • Yo, Matt! Drew here I worked there with you in those early Hank and Dale days with Forrest and Damon and the rest. drove by the store the other day and it broke my heart to see it empty. hope all is well with you and all the other BD fans and alumni: RIP Bagel Deli

  20. Day 1 – 33 years ago. The boys from Detroit brought a better bagel to Seattle. Dale stayed true to the recipe and always delivered a great product, All of you SHA Moms and Dads who chilled and shmoozed at the BD after morning drop-off…don’t forget to tell your kids about the mounds of cream cheese and the abundance of poppy or sesame seeds on “real bagels of the 20th century.” Never a bad one, Dale. Ride your bikeoff into bagel sunset; we’ll be waiting for you.

  21. Day 1 – 33 years ago. The boys from Detroit brought a better bagel to Seattle. Dale stayed true to the recipe and always delivered a great product, All of you SHA Moms and Dads who chilled and shmoozed at the BD after morning drop-off…don’t forget to tell your kids about the mounds of cream cheese and the abundance of poppy or sesame seeds on “real bagels of the 20th century.” Never a bad one, Dale. Ride your bike off into bagel sunset; we’ll be waiting for you.

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  23. Just like the forced closure of North Hill Bakery, this is an example of a greedy landlord pushing out a small, local business by raising the rent to ridiculous levels. He (or she) should be ashamed…..putting profit before people.

      • Jim, apparently you missed Sean’s comment above…he spoke with an employee of the business, and was told that the owner was given a 60% rent hike by the landlord. Yes, I guess technically that is hearsay, but it seems pretty credible to me.

        As for North Hill, I personally spoke with Margaret, the owner. She was not even given the option of matching a rent increase, but was just plain kicked out of the space.

      • Yes, Calhoun, that is hearsay. If you didn’t hear it from the owner and you didn’t hear it from the landlord, it’s hearsay. Didn’t even get the name of “an employee”. There very well might be more to the story than the usual “such a greedy landlord” angle.

  24. no surprise here…worst bagels EVER! Tried going on several occasions and vowed never to go back! Can’t stay open without a quality product that people enjoy! Though it looks like from the comments people (obviously with no bagel taste) enjoyed them…not sure why though, Safeway has better bagels!

  25. Bummer. This place was a block from my house. I’ve only lived in the neighborhood for six months but loved having a local little business making fresh food so close by. I love the New York bagel experts and their borderline anger about how anyone could think the bagels were good. Well I was a former bagel baker and I can tell you that these were, by far, the best bagels in Seattle. We get it, New York bagels are the best in the world. But you’re missing the point – these were good bagels made fresh daily by nice people in a neighborhood. I’ve been a landlord too. I’ve always acted in good faith with my tenants. Businesses like this are what build a community. Closing them is what turns a place into just another place, where people pass each other on the street and don’t say “good morning.” I lived in San Francisco for a long time and have watched all the artists, blue collar people, and small businesses get pushed out. I thought maybe Seattle had more time. I guess not.

  26. I returned to Seattle last night after a blissful week-long trip to NYC. This morning, I woke up early (thanks, jet lag!) and hopped over to the Bagel Deli, only to be greeted by dark windows and that sign. I’m devastated. I drove over to Bagel Oasis in Ravenna, praying that gentrification hadn’t slayed that, too. It was open. But it’s not the same. Agree with previous posters that Bagel Deli had the only acceptable bagels in Seattle. Einstein Brothers? Seriously? And Eltana? No. Just no. Canadian hipster cardboard chips.

    I understand market demands, but a 60% rent increase overnight is a great way to drive out everyone but medical professionals. Restaurants do not have the kind of margins to support that overhead.

    And I get another step closer to moving to the Bronx…

  27. I am so sorry to hear this news! I grew up roller skating and riding bikes to the Bagel Deli, then going for lunch there from Garfield HS. I even had breakfast there the morning of my wedding with my bridesmaids and grandparents and aunts!
    I am really sad that I can’t go back for one last bagel and cream chese. Thanks for the memories Bagel Deli!

  28. One of the employees at Bagel Deli had a newish tattoo of their logo on his arm. When I asked him about it a few weeks back he said Bagel Deli was a very special place to him.

    I know the business was for sale on Criagslist for a few months so I’m not sure about the rumors of being kicked out. The owner just may have been ready to retire.

    Bad atmosphere but really good bagels.

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  30. Looks like the building is owned by the Treiger family. The patriarch, Irwin Treiger, who died in Oct., supported many community causes, so I wonder if he kept the Bagel Deli rent below market. Anyone could see that Dale was/is a hard-working and dedicated businessman, but while the place had a steady stream of customers throughout the day, it was rarely crowded. Probably had twice as large a space as it needed. Whatever people want to say about the bagels, they were often baked the day before they were sold. Nothing beats getting a bagel still warm from the oven.

  31. Former employee: can confirm the 60% rent increase. The property owner passed away a few months ago and the guys son is a commercial real estate shark. Told Dale he would negotiate but was a complete dick and wouldn’t budge. The bagel deli has been part of this community for a long time and Dale/Hank gave so many kids I know from the hill a first chance at a job. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve known and really worked hard for a small business owner. He was trying to sell the business to retire but couldn’t find anyone to take over. The property manager is obviously trying to price out everyone and probably tear the building down. Harisas the Mediterranean place will be next. :( I guess the developer would rather see that location sit empty then negotiate a reasonable rent.

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  33. This is really a a blow, iv been going to that place since I was a little kid. I just made a three bus trek, as I do every 6 mo or so to come here and have the best jalapeño bagles anywhere. This place always had the friendly staff and id like to thank everyone who over the years have provided me with such memorable bagle experiences.

  34. I fucking hate real estate cocksuckers. All they do is rape people on rent and contribute 0 to society. They dont build thing, they dont invent things, all they do is sit around all day figureing out how to screw people over so they can buy a 100k car. Everyone should just spit in their face when they see a real estate agent.