Greenpoint locals Lanty Hou and Will Sacks started a company called Bagel Joint in their kitchen as a social media baking project. Bagel Joint is multicultural appetizing and bagel shop, inspired by the Taiwanese-Jewish fusion that Sacks and Hou cook for themselves and by the vibrant global flavors around New York City.

“Our mission is to honor global cuisine through the format of Ashkenazi Jewish baked goods like bagels, bialys, babka, knishes, and rugelach,” Sacks said. 

Bagel Joint currently sells eccentrically-flavored bagels and other baked goods at Williamsburg’s Smogasburg on Saturdays and Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park on Sundays. (Locals fans should note that this Saturday, June 8, will be Bagel Joint’s last day at Smorgasburg.)

But do not mourn the loss of Bagel Joint just yet—Sacks and Hou are opening a permanent home for Bagel Joint on Nassau Avenue this fall. (To raise money for the storefront, Sacks and Hou have created a Kickstarter.)

Greenpointers spoke with Sacks and Hou about Bagel Joint’s start, how they honor global cuisine through their bagel flavors, and Bagel Joint’s upcoming brick and mortar shop. 

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An assortment of the uniquely-flavored bagels from Bagel Joint. Photo: Bagel Joint

Greenpointers:  Tell us how you started Bagel Joint.

Will Sacks:  We both worked in entertainment and met at NYU. It all started when a I got a call from Lanty who was at LAX. She said we’re going to test if it’s really New York water that makes a good bagel. She brought back LA water to test the theory.

We had been talking about this for awhile. I’ve loved to bake forever. We hosted parties at NYU as a platform to show off our food. That developed into more baked goods. Over the pandemic, a decent bagel recipe fell into my lap. 

Lanty Hou:  In January 2023, I was working with an artist from South Brooklyn and is now in LA and every time he comes to New York he demands bagels. He said it’s all about the water.

Sacks:  I was working a job I didn’t love. I made the decision to take the leap. That led to more crazy bagel experiments and some were amazing like saffron and some were Gatorade and we won’t touch again. 

We fell in love with the idea of putting New York City’s incredible flavors into Ashkenazi Jewish food. We started playing with the fusion we always made between our very different childhoods and put that into practice. 

Lanty Hou (left) and Will Sacks (right), the founders of Bagel Joint. Photo: Bagel Joint

Greenpointers:  You call Bagel Joint “a multicultural bagel shop.” What do you mean by this?

Sacks:  We want to incorporate and embrace all of the immigrant communities around the New York City.

If you peek under the hood of what makes New York’s bagel shops great, it’s the patchwork melting pot. It’s the history of Thai bagel rollers. Why not reflect the flavors of the people making this food?

Bagels never get a chance to be fancy or dressed up. We live in a neighborhood with a $40 pizza, and I don’t want to sell a $40 bagel, but why not challenge what a bagel can become?

Greenpointers:  How do you come up with the unique bagel flavors?

Sacks:  We live in the most amazing place to be open minded. So many come from eating a scallion pancake and a light bulb goes off for scallion pancake cream cheese. Sometimes it’s stuff we have been making forever. 

We’ve done AAPI heritage flavors throughout the month, and thought, “What does Indian week look like?” We stumbled upon the garlic naan bialy, which is probably my single favorite thing we’ve ever made.

I am creative and having a prompt and global cuisine made into Jewish food really is a huge inspiration. Friend Ben, is employee number one. I am the only Jewish one, and the only one with access to this culture. Ben is from Singapore, and Lanty is from Taipei, so there is so much fusion that is natural. 

Hou:  We always say that we are always open for suggestions. Some suggestions can be very wild, but we are always willing to try new flavors.

Bagel Joint’s miso scallion bialy. Photo: Bagel Joint

Greenpointers:  What is your best selling bagel?

Sacks: It’s impossible to beat an everything bagel in New York. We sell 6-8 dozen at McGolrick Park every weekend alone.

In terms of flavors, it would be the miso bagel and the miso scallion bialy. The miso bagels sell really well in McGolrick. The saffron is a cult favorite. Spicy bagels we have been rotating have their own niche, too.

Greenpointers:  Were you surprised by your popularity when you started selling at the markets?

Hou: It was a big surprise! We started in our kitchen. We got a home processing license and started with 50 bagels.

Sacks: We were confined what we could fit in our fridge. We started baking at 10 p.m. the night before, baking six bagels at a time, in our tiny half size oven.

Hou: At this point, we are still very surprised. We are so happy to see that everyone in the neighborhood is also open to letting us challenge the food and flavors. 

Sacks: Everyone has been so game to take the ride with us. People are willing to trust us with a vindaloo bagel. Now, people are asking for it. It’s wild.

Bagel Joint’s gochujang everything bagel. Photo: Bagel Joint

Greenpointers:  Why are you opening your first permanent shop in Greenpoint?

Sacks:  I’ve loved Greenpoint since 2015. I live right across street from where the shop will be. It’s a full circle moment. 

Hou: It feels like the community. It makes me feel like this is home and where we belong. The customers make us feel welcome. They are excited to see us.

Sacks:  They ask us when the shop is coming. It’s humbling. 

Greenpointers:  When you are not baking bagels, what are your favorite spots to hang out in North Brooklyn?

Hou: We don’t go out that much anymore. But we love Acre, the Japanese coffeeshop.

Sacks: We also love our friends at Okka, the little coffee window. They have been so supportive on our journey. At one point, we were talking about doing a special Turkish bagel with them. We thought about a simit with everything bagel seasoning.

HouSalsa Pizzeria is so good. And Oxomoco. I’ve spent three birthdays there.

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