South Tacoma’s highly anticipated bagel shop set to open this week! Here are details

Howdy Bagel is ready for us at 5421 South Tacoma Way with a full menu of their cold-fermented bagels, creative schmears, hot sandwiches and coffee.

Partners Jake Carter and Daniel Blagovich, now with a team of 11 employees, will rise bright and early this Tuesday for opening day of their highly anticipated cafe and bakery in South Tacoma.

The storefront, announced in February 2022, is the culmination of almost three years of all-weather pop-up events, where customers sometimes waited in sleet and snow and long lines at the Proctor Farmers Market, where Carter and Blagovich first made their mark on Tacoma. Lucky club members have had regular access to their bagels in flavors like rosemary sea salt, za’atar and poppy, glazed by cream cheese infused with lemon and dill, pecan and maple, or their signature “cowboy spice,” crafted with caramelized onions and adobos.

Howdy Bagel’s storefront at 5421 South Tacoma Way is airy, with peachy walls and hunter-green accents.
Howdy Bagel’s storefront at 5421 South Tacoma Way is airy, with peachy walls and hunter-green accents.

They are particularly excited, said Carter last week, to showcase their bagels hot from the oven (order the “bread and butter” for a satisfying melted experience) and as the vehicle for breakfast sandwiches. Folded eggs with butter and cream will join bacon or a housemade turkey sausage patty, finished with “howdy sauce,” a sriracha aioli speckled with fried garlic. Add spicy tomato jam for a savory punch.

Howdy’s bagels are chewy and fluffy on the inside like a proper New York-style bagel but crackly with a blistered amber crust, similar to a traditionally wood-fired Montreal version. Unlike many iterations, they eschew common additions such as honey or an egg wash, and that vegan characteristic has drawn attention, too. On the menu: a vegan patty with Mykonos cashew-based cream cheese and hot honey, as well as a “PB&J” with house pecan butter swirled with miso and vanilla.

“We want people to be able to come in for a bagel with cream cheese and coffee for under $10,” said Carter, or just as easily indulge in “something fancy or simple, like an egg and cheese.”

Howdy fans will recognize the duo’s open-faced sandwiches, which they call tartines, from the Proctor market, including a favorite layered with lox, dill and a drizzle of sharp Graza olive oil.

Howdy rolls every bagel by hand and cold-ferments for up to 36 hours.
Howdy rolls every bagel by hand and cold-ferments for up to 36 hours.

The brick-and-mortar was never something Carter and Blagovich thought would happen when they started baking bagels at home in 2020, moving to a commissary by the following year.

Carter, originally from Texas, moved to the Seattle area as a social worker but had a background in the food industry. He spent several years part-time at Olympia Coffee, now roasting a special Howdy blend available from the espresso machine and in retail bags at the new shop. Blagovich, a Seattle native, was a contractor and ran a small event venue. With a desire to upcycle and an eye for vintage finds and striking design, they have nurtured Howdy into a definitive brand in just a few years. The Instagram page, now with nearly 12,000 followers, is awash with colorful squares and bagel circles.

The South Tacoma cafe, built with Tumwater’s Artisans Group, exudes similar flair. It’s breezy and bright, with loads of natural light pouring through the tall windows and bouncing off the custom salmon-pink wallpaper patterned with a snake slithering through a bagel (that and the logo designed by Austin-based Keith Davis Young). Blagovich installed Basalite at the service station and hunter-green tiles under the ordering counter. Midcentury-inspired globe lights hang overhead, and an antique card-catalog console holds various tinned fish, that olive oil, coffee and other merch. Enjoy your bagel and coffee at the blonde-wood banquette on the opposite wall or, in the near future, on a sidewalk table — if you can snag one!

At the biggest Howdy events, they would sell through about 500 bagels, according to Carter. They anticipate launching in South Tacoma with about 1,000 — but their walk-in cooler, where the bagels proof on perforated trays sprinkled with cornmeal for up to 36 hours, can accommodate 5,000.

They will probably get there, but first Carter hopes to offer other baked goods, including kolaches (a Czech danish that’s also big in Texas), cookies and maybe cinnamon rolls on weekends.

Howdy Bagel is part of a blossoming stretch of local businesses in the heart of South Tacoma.
Howdy Bagel is part of a blossoming stretch of local businesses in the heart of South Tacoma.

Since passing all of the necessary inspections, said Carter playfully, “There have been a lot of tears.” He also nodded to the dozens of people who applied to work with them; most of their initial team also identify as LGBTQ+, he added. Having a space where everyone can be themselves was something he and Blagovich didn’t always have, and they are humbled to offer that opportunity to others.

As their motto, now painted on a mirror above the seating area, drawing your eye as you enter, goes, “All means y’all!”


5421 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma,

Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Mondays)

Details: bagel shop opening May 30 with house cream cheese ($2.53-$4.25, $13/half-dozen), hot sandwiches ($8-$13.50) and full coffee menu; cafe open for drinks even if bagels sell-out (follow for updates)