Tucson’s Bubbe’s Fine Bagels rises to the occassion

Seven months ago, University of Arizona Graduates Kyle Leuer and Becca Groff opened Bubbee’s Fine Bagels. Since opening their first location, they have been met with ringing endorsements from the Tucson Jewish community and continued support from their friends and family. This support has propelled them and has given them the confidence to open their second location in the Joesler Center. The new location will open in just a few days, on March 6, 2022. Kyle and Becca met in October of 2021 through a dating app. From their initial date, they knew they were meant to be. They shared a love of food and both were excited about their futures. Although they were just a few weeks into their relationship, they were sitting around talking about their love of food and bagels…. the rest is history. Kyle said, “I have worked in restaurants since I was 16. I always dreamed about owning a restaurant. Becca came along and I had never met someone as food obsessive as me. I’m always thinking about my next meal, I love food. Becca pushed forward about opening a bakery bagel shop. Sure enough, it happened!!! It’s really a result of meeting Becca that we are here.” Kyle and Becca shared that bagels were a big part of their childhood.

Kyle grew up in Chicago, and realized that there were not many locally-owned bagel shops in Tucson, even though there were a lot of east coast transplants and a strong Jewish community. For Becca, her parents always had bagels in the house. “We would break fast of Yom Kippur with bagels, cream cheese and lox platters. Bagels have always been a huge part of my life. It feels so normal to me to eat bagels all the time. I still eat bagels everyday.” Becca shared that the Jewish community has really embraced Bubbee’s Fine Bagels and have rallied around her and Kyle. “I was involved in the Jewish community in Tucson with my parents, part of BBYO, and I worked with a Jewish caterer through the JCC. The support of the Jewish community in Tucson has been huge. They knew my parents and they were in the shop, sharing Facebook posts, and they were very supportive and wanted us to succeed. As Kyle and Becca discussed opening a bagel bakery, they decided to ask Kyle’s employers at the time, Tracy and Marc Frankel, owners of Pizza Luna for advice. “We approached Marc and Tracy about our idea, and they were crazy enough to go along with us” said Kyle. Tracy and Marc were supportive and offered to help Kyle and Becca realize their dream of opening a bagel bakery. “We founded a product that people needed in Tucson. We really fit into the niche. Our product really stands for itself. We have a really good bagel! We are obsessive and are our harshest critic” said Kyle. Becca shared that there were some initial challenges. As they were still living in student housing, they were learning how to make the bagels and really had to learn to hone their craft. Becca said, “We want to make bagels that we want to eat and that we are happy with. It feels good to have a product that we can be proud of.” Becca and Kyle started their bakery during covid. Like other restaurants, they struggled with staffing, difficult customer interactions, supply chain problems, and even construction challenges. Many of the decisions they made early on were based on covid. According to Kyle, “the decisions we made, actually really saved us and made us stronger. It taught us a lot of lessons and we are stronger for it.”

Both Becca and Kyle felt that an authentic bagel bakery would set them apart from other bagel shops in the area. “We have all the attributes of a great bagel. We boil and bake our bagels. We use a sourdough-based dough. The texture is great, they blister well, they are crackly and crunchy. These are the bagels that took us back to our childhood” said Kyle. “Our customers tell us everyday how much they love the bagels, interacting with us, and just being in our shop. What moves me the most, is when older people come in and they have almost a nostalgic reaction like they have been transported back to the east coast when they were kids when they went to bagel shops. It’s really sweet to have this type of impact on someone. We have felt a lot of love in Tucson.” The name Bubbee’s seemed to fit what Kyle and Becca were envisioning…They have design features that transport you to Bubbee’s home. There is a lot of love. “We went shopping at vintage stores around Tucson and we have a bookshelf with knick-knacks and a picture of Barbra Streisand. People take pictures all the time. It has become part of the shops identity.” The new bakery is going to have a very similar look, with knick-knacks and the nostalgic feel that everyone has grown to love. Becca shared that opening a second location so quickly was a surprise to them. “The location was there and we just jumped on it. It has worked out well, maybe too well. We feel very fortunate to share our passion and love with this community” said Becca. Bubbe’s Fine Bagels is located at 1101 N. Wilmot Rd. and the second location will soon be open at the Joesler Center at 1865 E. River Rd. For more information contact owners Kyle Leuer and Becca Groff. Visit bubbesbagel.com or follow Bubbe’s Fine Bagels on Instagram

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