Gab Taube, owner of Pigeon Bagels, is circling in on a recipe for growth. The 26-year-old Regent Square resident has plans of opening a bakery and storefront in Squirrel Hill. The proposed site is located near the corner of Hobart Street and Wightman Street, in a building that previously housed Nu-Life Cleaners & Shirt Laundry.
Taube, who has built a loyal following by selling bagels at farmers markets in Squirrel Hill and Bloomfield, as well as through wholesale to local cafes, explained the decision to set up a brick-and-mortar shop as a natural progression of her expanding business.
After eight years’ experience in food services, “this is kind of where I was at,” she said.
Previous employments have included stops in fast food, fine dining and at A’Pizza Badamo in Mt. Lebanon, where she currently rents space and equipment to cook her bagels.
Taube credited Anthony Badamo, the restaurant’s owner whom she called “my mentor,” for introducing her to a “non-pretentious way” of doing things “just right.”
“I kind of saw what my old boss is doing with pizza and how it was kind of like an evolving process of always wanting to get the stove just right and find the right ingredients,” she explained. “I was like, I could do this with a bagel.”
Comments shared on social media suggest Taube is well on her way. Instagram posts of Pigeon Bagels’ sandwiches and spreads elicit positive feedback and demonstrate customers’ desire for more product.
Remaining committed to “simple” offerings and paying homage to her family are at the heart of the enterprise, she said.
The idea is to operate a small shop where people can have daily walk-up service, while the business still meets wholesale demands.
“I think it will be kind of new,” said Taube.
Placing it in Squirrel Hill makes sense, she added, given her family’s history in the area. Taube’s aunt and uncle live in the neighborhood, as did her grandparents, the late Marion and Mike Taube.
“They had a real sense of this is the best place you could be,” she said. “They just loved Squirrel Hill so much.”
Although Taube has never resided there, “Squirrel Hill is just home in a way,” she said.
Whether Squirrel Hill will actually house Pigeon Bagels is a matter to be determined by the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment. From its Sept. 20 hearing, the board has 45 days to decide whether the building, which is owned by Steve Stoller and managed by Ben Roth, both of Squirrel Hill, can “change from one non-conforming use to another,” reported Print.
Taube is optimistic about the ruling.
“I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited,” she said.
In the meantime, she has begun exploring the possibility of making Pigeon Bagels kosher.
“It’s something I’m really strongly considering, but I’m actually not educated on at this point,” she said. “It’s not like the kind of thing you can Google, like, ‘How do I get kosher in the city of Pittsburgh?’”
Creating a kosher establishment would enable certain eaters, including members of her family, to enjoy her offerings, but it is not definite that Pigeon Bagels will ever fly that route. More certain is that Taube will continue upholding her family name, which in German means pigeon, thus explaining the business’ moniker.
“A lot of people don’t know why I called it that. I think it’s a lot of fun. People are like, ‘It doesn’t make a lot of sense,’ and people don’t really love pigeons either, which is kind of fun, but they’re actually a pretty noble bird,” she said.
So with a quirky pairing, birds and bagels seem ever present.
At any family event, “everyone is gathered around bagels,” said Taube. “It doesn’t matter what it’s for or the time of the day. … I just feel like it’s a very universal comfort food and I love that about it.” PJC