The atmosphere inside Cleveland Bagel CafeThe place is buzzing with the sound of people just starting their day. There is a line almost to the door from the counter.
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Located at 436 E. Main Street in the Tudor-style building that most recently housed a Starbucks, the Cleveland Bagel Café is brand new to Kent’s restaurant landscape — another offering from local entrepreneur Mike Beder.
More:Cleveland Bagel opens in Kent
A full espresso bar, a variety teas, and a myriad of spreadable toppings. “schmears” on the menu, drip coffee, and a full menu of 16 sandwiches — including lunch and dinner specials like a club sandwich and pizza bagel — are available to patrons.
This expanded menu sets the café apart from other Cleveland Bagel stores, which only offer five sandwiches and aren’t equipped with an espresso bar, said General Manager Charlotte Varney.
The café, only open since Tuesday after nine months of delays, is currently open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cafe will be open seven days per week from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. beginning next week.
Kent’s anticipation for the café to open its doors has been palpable.
“Everyone has been wondering why we weren’t open,”Varney stated.
For decades, the building has housed a café to serve students at nearby Kent State University. It was also known as Captain Brady’s for many years. Bonny Graham Esparza of Kent ran Brady’s Cafe. It closed in 2003 when Starbucks took over. It also housed a campus bookshop.
Kent State purchased the property and has leased the building ever since.
She explained that because the building is state-owned, they were required by law to conduct a more detailed building inspection before opening.
Kent’s anticipation for the store’s arrival hasn’t been dampened by the delay.
On the second floor of the café on Wednesday morning, Beder sat in a plush blue armchair in front of knee-high table. Below, morning commerce continued to ebb.
“I was very confident that we’d do well,”Beder said: “but you never know until you unlock the doors.”
Beder stated that the cafe fills in a gap in Kent’s dining scene.
“Having a casual place where you can get some hardier breakfast stuff that’s a little more than the typical coffee shop offering, but not the complete sit-down table service concept, somewhere in between, I think fills a void in the market for that,”Beder stated. “We’re a bagel shop that sells coffee versus a coffee shop that has a couple bagels.”
His relationship to the Cleveland Bagel Company is not new. Tree City Coffee, which Beder owned up to 2021 sold their bagels until a new owner took over.
“They were no longer being offered anywhere in town anymore,”Beder said: “and it had such a great following, and has such a great following in Cleveland, we just felt it would be a good fit.”
Customers seem to be in agreement so far.
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Paul Smith, a graduate student in philosophy at Kent State, said that he thinks the replacement of Starbucks with the Cleveland Bagel Café is a step up.
“They have coffee, and they have bagels. That’s an improvement,”Smith.
Lylla, a Kent State fashion merchandising major, finished her tea at a table near the East Main Street windows. It was her first visit to the restaurant.
She stated that the simplicity of this menu makes it easy to choose an order.
“But also there’s enough variety,”Hinchcliff said: “that I could see myself coming back and trying all the different kinds of things.”
It is important to consider the location.
“I park pretty close by, so it’s kind of on my way to classes,”She said.
Hinchcliff had been away from KSU’s campus since 2002, when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. Hinchcliff had heard rumors that Starbucks was closing and that demolition plans were in place.
“I was really happy to hear that something was opening up here,”Hinchcliff. “It’s just something different than what’s been here for years. It’s a nice change.”
Contact reporter Derek Kreider at [email protected]
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