Famed NYC Bagel Maker H&H Plans to Open 10 Stores in DC and Virginia

The company will make and freeze bagels in Queens, then ship them down here for baking.

An H&H Bagels store on the Upper West Side. Photograph courtesy of H&H.

DC’s bagel scene has blossomed in recent years, but New Yorkers are still quick to argue that we don’t hold a candle—because of the tap water, or something? 

By the end of the year, DC locals will be able to decide for themselves: New York institution H&H Bagels plans to open 10 stores in the District and Virginia as part of a national expansion. The bagels will be kettle-boiled, parbaked, and flash frozen at a new facility in Queens before being shipped in frozen trucks to the franchises, where they’ll be finished in special ovens. 

“All our bagels are made here in New York City, so Washingtonians will have authentic New York City bagels locally,” says H&H CEO Jay Rushin, a DC-area native. “I’m super excited to bring the brand down there.”

H&H, founded in Manhattan in 1972 by Puerto Rican in-laws Helmer Toro and Hector Hernandez, built up a reputation as the holy grail of New York bagels—it played a prominent role in a classic Seinfeld episode, and was featured in Sex and the City and You’ve Got Mail—before breaking apart into various franchises and going bankrupt in 2011. During the pandemic, it ramped up its shipping and wholesale business.

Rushin declined to share specifics of the planned DC area locations until the company actually signs the leases, but he says they will all be inside the Beltway, and operated by a Norfolk-based franchisee. While the famed original Upper West Side storefront—shuttered in 2011—sold only bagels, this new wave of bagel shops will offer two dozen flavors of cream cheese and spreads, seven kinds of smoked fish, and an array of hot breakfast sandwiches. 

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor