A bagel evolution: Holey Roller reborn as Laundromat Bagels, adds S.F. restaurant

Kevin Rodgers of Laundromat Bagels at the farmers market.
(Kate Hull / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A Santa Cruz County farmers market favorite, Laundromat Bagels (formerly Holey Roller Bagels) has officially opened its new restaurant, The Laundromat SF, in the Outer Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco.

If you see a long line at the farmers market, it’s almost always worth investigating. Make it to the front of the line at Laundromat Bagels’ booth at the Westside and Live Oak farmers markets and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best homemade bagels in Santa Cruz County.

Envisioned in 2020 by Long Island native Kevin Rodgers, Laundromat Bagels (formerly Holey Roller Bagels) was co-founded by Rodgers and Jenna O’Connell — his business and life partner.

Bagels were an integral part of Rodgers’ upbringing, but he didn’t start baking them until about 2018. Of the process, he said, “I always bake and experiment with stuff at home, but [bagels] were something that I kind of never did.” Once Rodgers started making bagels, he quickly realized that he had a knack for it. Both his and O’Connell’s background in the food industry made the operation scalable: He thought, “OK, I made 10 and I think I could do 500. Then it was 500 — I think I could do 1,000.”

Their original opening coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Laundromat Bagels got its legs through Instagram and Rodgers’ ride. “We basically just started selling bagels out of my pickup truck,” he said. “On Instagram we’d say, ‘Hey, we got 100 bagels,’ and then people would order them and then we’d just drop them off on the porch.” Rodgers and O’Connell then started partnering with breweries and restaurants in the community and selling the bagels there, as well as at Santa Cruz farmers markets.

Farmers markets helped Laundromat Bagels form a relationship with the niche communities within Santa Cruz. “You have your little bubbles,” Rodgers said. “People over in Live Oak/Eastside won’t necessarily come over to the Westside.” This prompted the expansion from the Westside, where they opened in early 2021, to the Felton and Live Oak markets.

Chewy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with that quintessential New York-style maltiness, Laundromat’s bagels are sublime. Its cream cheese has a gorgeous whipped consistency and is best served in a thick slab atop the bagels.

Laundromat Bagels’ popularity comes as no surprise. Its bagels have inspired local chef Katherine Stern to occasionally include them on her breakfast menu at farmers market stall The Midway, topped with other farmers market ingredients like smoked salmon, fresh tomatoes and onion.

Today, Laundromat Bagels makes between 600 and 1,000 bagels per day depending on where they’re selling, all hand-rolled with organic ingredients. Laundromat currently serves five types of bagels — plain, sesame, salt, poppy and everything — as well as a rotating selection of cream cheeses. Keep an eye out for new flavors, such as Rodgers’ favorite: the egg bagel.

Of working in Santa Cruz, Rodgers says the community “is in general super positive and supportive, through kind of everything … that’s really sweet on a day-to-day just to interact with people and get to know everybody.”

The Laundromat SF is an extension of Laundromat Bagels: a full-service bagel shop that will serve pizza, beer and wine in the evenings as well. The name Laundromat SF pays homage to the former space, a family-owned laundromat called Let’s Do Wash. The new endeavor has been a team effort between Rodgers and O’Connell, as well as co-owners and friends Jaimi Holker and Adam Bergeron — known in Santa Cruz as former owners of The Crepe Place. The Laundromat SF had its soft opening last Friday, and was fully open as of Thursday.

Laundromat’s new San Francisco kitchen will enable it to expand production and sell more bagels than ever at Santa Cruz farmers markets. It premiered at the farmers market in Aptos earlier in October, and Rodgers hopes to open at Mountain View farmers market as well; Laundromat will continue to be at Live Oak and the Westside. Rodgers says the goal is to make 5,000 bagels on a weekend day, plenty to satiate carbohydrate hankerings in both San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

“We will always do farmers markets because they’re great and where we got our start,” Rodgers said. “The community is so supportive here, so we’re 100% always going to stay here.”

Find Laundromat Bagels at the Aptos and Westside farmers markets on Saturdays and Live Oak farmers markets on Sundays. The Laundromat SF is located at 3725 Balboa St. in San Francisco. Its hours are Monday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Wednesday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

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