CLINTON, Wash. — New York style bagels are being cranked out by the dozens on Whidbey Island by Whidbey Island Bagel Factory owner John Auburn and his crew.
"I have heard people say 'bagels on Whidbey Island? They don't know how to make bagels!' but those New Yorkers and those east coasters, they'll come here all the time!” said Auburn.
Customer Jim Tomisser waiting in line to pick up some bagels for friends from the east coast: "I live on the island, we have friends in town - we come here and get bagels for them, they're from New York City too, so this is spot on for them, this is like being at home for them."
This really is a factory.
“You can come in and watch how the bagels are being made and it's all on show,” said Auburn, referring to the massive machine that takes raw dough and cranks out bagels on a conveyer belt. The machine has a photograph of a famous I Love Lucy episode hanging above it.
“The picture of Lucille and Ethel and the chocolate factory - so when I started when I took this over and I was running the big machine that's the first thing that came to mind so I knew I had to get that picture up on the wall,” laughed Auburn.
People line up at 7 in the morning to get these bagels hot out of the oven. They’re boiled, then baked, 24 at a time, and because of his past baking experience, Auburn mixes the flavorings into his bagels – and he gets creative.
“We do the Bahn Mi which is wasabi, jalapeño juice, cilantro, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, fresh carrots and fresh ginger,” said Auburn. The Bahn Mi bagel also happens to be the only bagel he makes that is not vegan – the rest are. Rosemary Sea-Salt Chive is a local’s favorite, it sells out daily.
Before bagels - Auburn baked cakes so amazing they made it onto national TV. "Evening" did a story on him and his cake creations back in 2008: “I went on Food Network and TLC on those cake competitions and won both of those and after 26 years I wanted to do something different.”
Today Whidbey Island Bagel Factory has a location in Clinton, in Oak Harbor, and one will open in Mount Vernon this month. This Whidbey bagel biz is booming, and Auburn is delighted to give New York some delicious competition from the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s a passion of mine and I love it.”