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Window of Opportunity : Business: Arcadia's newest fast-food joint offers bagels rather than burgers. It may be the country's first drive-through bagel bakery.

November 10, 1994|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You drive up to the tinny voice box outside Arcadia's newest fast-food joint and blurt out your order. And hold the lox, you say.

The lox?

In a new twist on the quintessential California way of eating, Michael and Bridget Goldstein have opened what may be the country's first drive-through bagel bakery.

Goldstein's Bagel Bakery opened at 221 N. Santa Anita Ave. in September, the second Goldstein's outlet. The original location, a 5-year-old store in Old Pasadena, sells 5,000 bagels daily and the new one is even busier, said Michael Goldstein, a 40-year-old former stockbroker who now wears shorts and a T-shirt to work.

"My wife and I have two kids and we use the drive-through a lot because it's convenient," he said. "So we decided if we opened another bakery it would be a drive-through."

Based on initial business, the Arcadia bakery is expected to generate $3 million in sales annually, twice as much as the Pasadena location with one-third of the business generated by the drive-through. "Bagels have replaced the doughnut as the food to bring to the office," Goldstein said.

Despite its nod to modern eating habits, the 4,000-square-foot Arcadia bakery has a sign over the oven doorway that expresses its commitment to traditional bagel-making: "A true bagel is boiled then hearth baked."

Nationwide, total bagel sales exceeded $500 million last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the research firm Information Resources. The Goldsteins have ridden the craze, acting as consultants for a new San Dimas bagel store--The Bagelry--and are talking of starting a separate fast-food chain.

The Arcadia bakery until last year was a former dry cleaners.

The Goldsteins leased the site and invested $500,000 in new ovens and bagel-making equipment, knocking down an old building behind it for a parking lot, creating a patio and a drive-through lane.

"This isn't a business you can start with $20,000, I tell people who say they want to get in it," Goldstein said.

It was the second time they started from a shell. In 1989 they leased the San Antonio Winery store at Colorado Boulevard and DeLacey Street in Old Pasadena and turned the shell into a bakery. In the years since it's become a success as the area has become the Westwood of the '90s. "I like to think Old Pasadena grew as the bakery grew," Goldstein said.

The winery went to court last year in an attempt to end the bakery's lease, accusing it of breaching its lease terms on the now highly valuable site. After a jury was seated, the winery decided to settle, paying the bakery $70,000 in attorney's fees and providing a 40-year lease. "We put $250,000 into the site when Old Pasadena was zero and we weren't going to be pushed out," Goldstein said.

Still, he said, "It's a lot less stressful than being a stockbroker."

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