Israel Beigel Baking Company
Over the course of many years – 66 years to be exact – Israel Beigel Baking Company (Beigel’s) has become a long-standing name in New York’s Jewish community and beyond, selling to large-scale food service accounts, health care facilities, club stores and retailers across the country. Beigel’s produces hundreds of baked goods daily, from its signature challah bread to Black and White Cookies, Rugelach, cakes, pies and countless pastries; however, the family-run company is still baking with the quality and care that’s found in a mom and pop operation.
“It’s very seldom you will find bakeries that do things as we do,” shares Joseph Folger, president and one of Beigel’s four partner-owners. “We produce hundreds of SKUs for the bread, sweets and cakes. And, while we’re moving to more assembly lines and larger runs, we still go out of our way to support our smaller clientele.”
Today, Beigel’s has approximately 100 employees. The company originally started with a single baker – the sole survivor of his family’s baking operation in Cracow, Poland. “For decades, Israel’s family ran a bakery in Poland, but when the Germans invaded, they took over the bakery and forced the family to make bread for the German war effort,” recounts Folger. “Although it was risky, Israel and other family members made runs to supply bread to people dying of hunger. It was literally a day-to-day battle to survive.”
A brighter future and family ownership
Shortly after World War II in 1948, Israel fled to the United States, where he carried on his family’s legacy, starting a bakery in New York City’s lower east side. “He went into business with his brothers-in-law, Wolfe Stiel and Leibe Wislicki,” shares Folger.
Folger and Gordon joined the company 28 years ago as family friends. “We grew up with the second generation cousins, Fishel Stiel and Meiloch Wislicki,” Folger recounts. “The bakery relocated to Brooklyn in the 1950s and as the Sr. Beigel, Stiel and Wislicki were getting ready to retire, they asked us to take over the reins of the company. We’ve been here ever since.”
Even as Beigel’s has grown, now readying to make a serious transition from the company’s current 35,000-square-foot production facility to a new 80,000-square-foot space complete with more modern equipment and assembly lines, the bakery remains a family-owned business.
Room to grow
Beigel’s has grown by leaps and bounds since Israel opened the first location in the Lower East Side, fleeing from war and sparking a brighter future and lasting legacy. “As a wholesale operation, we’re now shipping to major cities outside of New York, going into Atlanta and Chicago,” details Folger. “We’re in Costco, Kroger’s and also Sam’s Club. In addition, we distribute to nursing homes, hospitals, club stores and corner delis, just to name a few.”
Folger says he has his sights set on more Midwest and west coast business as Beigel’s moves into a significantly larger facility with room to grow. Popular items, such as Black and White Cookies, Rugelach, challah bread and other traditional European pastries and sweets, have drawn attention to Beigel’s. “It has taken off in a very big way,” Folger says.
While kosher items remain a specialty niche for Beigel’s, the company can fill nearly any request, serving customers of all denominations. “I feel like the sky’s the limit for us right now,” Folger continues. “We are capable of growing bigger and stronger and we’re confident that we will succeed.”
No matter how much Beigel’s expands, at the end of the day, the company is grounded in family. “We’re still in second-generation ownership, but our children are being groomed to take over the business,” shares Folger. “We keep our families close. Many lessons and recipes are being passed down, but the most important are faith, the importance of relationships and pride in work.
“Monetary returns are important to us, but service and quality are priorities,” says Folger. “Our greatest indicator of success is that people buy, enjoy and appreciate our products.”
A dedication to high-quality items and a tradition of excellence will carry Israel Beigel Baking Company to new heights with a long lasting future in the baking industry.