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Bowery owner talks new facility, future growth and why Portland's bagels are as good as New York

Portland's bagel scene is about to amp up, in a huge way.

Bowery Bagels owner Michael Madigan plans to begin producing his eats from a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in the Kenton neighborhood. The facility, at 8534 N. Interstate Place, nearly quadruples Bowery's current production space.

Madigan also plans to open more spots as Bowery begins making as many as 500,000 bagels a month, or five times as many as the company makes now.

Bowery landed in the #23 spot in this year's PBJ Private 100 rankings. The company collected $1.24 million in 2014 revenue, marking a three-year increase of 234 percent.

We caught with Madigan for an email interview as he prepares to unleash more Bowery on the city.

So we're going to see more Bowery spots around town? We have a fairly aggressive retail strategy and plan to open new locations in several neighborhoods around the city over the next two years. We're also looking at a full NY-style deli concept, which doesn't really exist in Portland today.

Talk about what the Kenton facility will offer. Mostly increased production space, and upgraded baking equipment. We average over 100,000 bagels a month in under 800 square feet of production space today. That's hard on our staff and our equipment. Moving to 5,000 square feet, of which 3,400 square feet is production space, will be luxurious. Initially, the space will give us a chance to catch our breath, and then begin expanding production.

How did you choose Kenton for the new production facility? Primarily because the building and amenities were a near perfect match. Beyond that, the Kenton neighborhood is going through a revitalization. Many of our employees live in NoPo, some within walking distance of the new facility. And we offer our employee subsidized TriMet passes, so they will be able to take advantage of MAX being three blocks away, and a couple of bus lines within four blocks. Freeway access for our delivery vans is excellent.

What sort of future growth are we talking about for Bowery? We will continue to grow our main product, which is our artisan bagel baked every morning and delivered daily to about 115 places around Portland. Our fastest growing product will likely be our Old Town by Bowery product, which is a plastic sleeve of six bagels sold on retail grocery shelves. Those bagels are available at many places around Portland, but we can't expand production in our current space.

We're also working with a distributor who would make the Old Town product available frozen, in a geographic area beyond Portland Metro. We would like to increase our baked goods offering into other Kosher items. Also the aforementioned Bowery retail locations in Portland.

Do you still have the lease on the Old Town spot? What other uses are possible for that space? Yes, we will maintain the lease on the current space. It will likely be redeployed as part of KitchenCru Culinary Incubator, either as a bakery, or a certified gluten-free kitchen.

Bagels have gotten better here (H&H is my gold standard; I've not yet tried Bowery). What will take for Portland to become a good bagel city? I think Portland is further along than you may realize. H&H closed down a few years ago, and for the most part, bagels in NYC are pretty poor.

Portland is already a great bagel town if you look at the product available. I believe there are at least three bagels here in Portland that would be considered top 10 percent in NYC. The difference is, they are mostly available at smaller shops so you have to seek them out. Obviously the bagel hasn't reached the cultural apex it has in NYC as part of the daily diet, but I think as more high quality bagels become available, more people will eat them more often.

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