Whidbey Island’s increasingly famous namesake bagels are now available in Oak Harbor.
As of Easter Sunday, Clinton’s Whidbey Island Bagel Factory has opened a location on Fidalgo Avenue, inside the the old Feed and Seed Store, now called The Loft.
The newly renovated building and its owners, Annabelle Rockwell and her husband Patrick Bateman, convinced Bagel Factory owner John Auburn to make a move he wasn’t really considering. About the time Auburn was considering expanding south to Bothell, he received a call from Rockwell and Bateman asking him to consider opening a store inside their space.
“It was too good to be true, so I took it,” Auburn said.
The 1937 structure’s wood and metal aesthetic fits Auburn’s desired “industrial” look, and Oak Harbor’s larger population presented a great business opportunity, he said.
The store won’t have a boiler and oven at the Oak Harbor location until the end of April, so currently the New York-style bagels are baked in Clinton every morning and taken North.
Until the kitchen is finished, Oak Harbor will have to make do with bagels, cream cheese, desserts and Honeymoon Bay Coffee Roasters coffee.
Customers seem content.
“I’m so happy you’re here, I can’t tell you,” Oak Harbor resident Lorraine Hulett told Auburn when he asked how everything was.
“I couldn’t be happier,” she said.
Ask anyone in the store how their bagels were, and you receive answers like, “delicious,” “wonderful” and “fabulous.”
People travel to Whidbey Island just to try these bagels, which were named the best in Washington state by Delish Magazine. Auburn said his product stands out from the rest because of the process he follows — infusing flavor into the bagel itself, boiling and then baking. So it’s got a crunch on the outside, but it’s still chewy.
“The grocery store only has bread with a hole in it,” he said.
There are 27 flavors of bagels available, and all of them have the flavor baked into the product. For instance, jalapeño oil can be tasted in every bite of the jalapeño cheddar bagel. The bahn mi has spicy, Asian-inspired flavors.
“It’s not just a plain bagel with seeds on it,” Auburn said.
After the oven and boiler are installed in Oak Harbor, sandwiches and soup will also become available.
Auburn said he plans to add outdoor seating as well. A grand opening will be held when all of the spaces in The Loft are filled.
Though he wasn’t planning on the move to Oak Harbor, Auburn said he’s happy with the new location, response from the community and the space he’s occupying.
“It was a perfect storm,” he said.
“The people, the building, it was just awesome.”