We’re wrapping up Pride Month here in Tacoma. While supporting local businesses is always on our minds, there’s a new queer-owned business (that continues to come up in just about every conversation we have), and we think it deserves a special spotlight.
Enter: Howdy Bagel.
The line remains out the door months after opening (even mid-day on a weekday). People will wait hours (yes, hours)* to get their hands on the delectable, yeasty morsels of tastiness. It’s the only place in the city that you can find locally-made bagels from scratch, perfectly whipped schmears and bodega style breakfast sandwiches.
*Howdy Bagel started as a pop-up shop experience. Waiting in line at the new shop now takes less than an hour most days – but it’s still best to set aside a little time if you go experience it for yourself (and we hope you do).
So, what makes a bagel worth waiting for? Beyond a baker’s dozen, there’s plenty to take away from this community-minded bakehouse. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Howdy Bagel such a standout success – it’s what every brand dreams of.
Brand Lesson 1: Let your passion lead
The love story behind Howdy Bagel is as heartwarming as their oven-fresh bagels. Texas natives Jake Carter and Daniel Blagovich turned their love for baking into a booming business. Their passion for food, combined with a desire to share it with others, formed the foundation of what they do.
Brand Lesson 2: It’s worth taking the time to be intentional
Compelling brands like Howdy Bagel don’t happen by accident. The meticulous attention to detail – from conceptual, well-styled photography to the careful choice of interior design, décor and even the curated merchandise – all align with the brand’s narrative.
In terms of the food – you’ll find a classic variety of flavors such as rosemary sea salt, sesame, poppy, onion and everything bagels. The shop manages to perfectly capture the time-honored essence of a beloved bakery staple. Classics aren’t the only thing on the menu either. You can get a hint of spice with jalapeno poblano schmear or spicy tomato jam. Breakfast sandwiches cover the basics from pastrami and egg to adventurous options featuring house-made pecan butter, maple syrup and miso.
Brand Lesson 3: Listen and fill a need
The demand for bagels in Tacoma was through the roof long before the bakery opened – so much so that Carter and Blagovich raised $40,000 on Kickstarter to fund the storefront. Being queer-owned adds a sense of inclusivity and diversity to the Grit City food scene with a welcoming space that invites everyone to be part of it (“Y’all means all!”).
Despite the gay community being arguably less visible in Tacoma than our northbound neighbors, Carter knew Tacoma was the place to put down roots. “We don’t have a lot of gay bars in Tacoma, we don’t have a lot of queer spaces in Tacoma,” Carter noted in a June 1 article from Eater. “And so, the spaces that are carved out by the queer community are very organic, and it just feels personal because we kind of have to seek each other out.”
Brand Lesson 4: Become known for more than your product or solution
Magnetic brands like Howdy Bagel represent a movement – a cultural shift. Magnetic brands are led by community builders, people who are here to shape and influence the change they wish to see in the world.
Authenticity is the ultimate marketing strategy for meaningful connection.
Howdy Bagel speaks a language of warmth, welcome and old-fashioned Southern Hospitality. In doing so, it becomes more than just a bagel shop – it becomes a gathering place.
So here’s to Howdy Bagel – a testament to the power of passion, community and a damn good bagel.