Bagel shmagel, right? Wrong. If you’ve had a good bagel, you know it. If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. And until Henry Higgins moved into the neighborhood, many of us very well could have continued on with life unaware that we had been duped all these years. No, a bagel isn’t just a doughy ring made for spreading cream cheese over. There’s an art to making the right bagel, and if perfected it’s a bit of magic in your mouth. Henry Higgins is proof, and their assortment of boiled bagels (crispy on the outside, chewy in), shmear, and sandwiches has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Let’s meet the person behind it all, Leah Orndoff.
1) Tell us about Leah. There was a lot anticipation for your bagels, but what about the woman behind the bagel? Where are you from, how did you land in the neighborhood, etc?
I grew up in Lake Tahoe and moved to Portland almost 9 years ago. I’ve lived in SE for the last 4 years and really fell in love with the neighborhood.
2) So you’re not just some Jane-come-lately who wants to slang bagels to the neighborhood. You have a pretty lengthy history in the industry, yeah? Can you tell us a little about your background and how HH came to be?
I worked as the General Manager of Kettleman’s for over 4 years. With the sale to Einstein’s, myself and two of the bakers who had worked for me previously rented kitchen space and set out to bring a traditional bagel back to Portland. After a year of renting space, we were able to move into our own bakery and increase our production while growing our wholesale business. Here we are three years later and the shop has been open for almost 7 months.
3) So, living in the area, how important was it for you to open your retail operation locally?
Community is very important to me. I wanted to open a shop the neighborhood could feel like was their own.
4) What’s been the biggest challenge with running a business on Foster? And the greatest reward?
Business is unpredictable; we are still in an up-and-coming neighborhood and as the area grows and new business moves in, changes are very difficult to foresee. The greatest reward is the support of the families and customers in the neighborhood. Everyone has been very supportive and have made our opening in the neighborhood a great success.
5) Being a local yourself, what do you love most about the neighborhood? What are your three favorite haunts on Foster?
I love the contrasts in the neighborhood. Everyday there is something different going on and there are people from all walks of life bringing their own interests and passions into Foster. My three favorite places would be Slingshot, An Xyuen (YAY cheap and delicious Bahn Mi) and Bar Carlo.
6) Ok, back to the bagels. For the uninitiated, how would you describe your bagels in five words?
Time-Tested Authentically Boiled Perfection.
7) And in more than five words, what separates a Henry Higgins boiled bagel from the rest.
Our process. We use sustainably grown flour as well as locally sourced sugar and seeds. None of the bagels are washed with egg or have any added preservatives, the process makes them shine.
8) Finally, let’s entice the folks who’ve yet to venture in to HH. What would you say to get them in and coming back?
I’d like to think the bagels will speak for themselves. Come try us out, you won’t regret it 🙂
Check out Henry Higgins at 6420 SE Foster. Open everyday, 6:30 am – 4 pm.