Noah Might Be a Business Mensch, But the Bagels That Bear His Name? Meh

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Final boarding call.
​In Sunday's Chronicle, Ilana DeBare grilled Noah Alper, founder of Noah's Bagels. As it turns out, Alper, author of the recent tome Business Mensch: Timeless Wisdom for Today's Entrepreneurs (Wolfeboro, $14.95), has tried a few unsuccessful business ventures in his day. For starters, selling authentic Israeli "items" (which we're guessing might mean trinkets) to evangelical Christians and running a kosher Italian restaurant in downtown Berkeley. However, Alper did fairly well with bagels, selling his 38-store chain to national corporation Einstein Bros. in 1995 for $100 million. Alper broke it down for DeBare like a day-old dipped in a cup of coffee:

"San Francisco had every manner of great ethnic cuisine, but there wasn't a world-class bagel here. When we opened it was like we were an oasis in the desert, with people coming from all over the whole Bay Area .... It seems ridiculous now, but carbo loading was a big deal in those days. It took people 6 1/2 years to realize if you carbo load and you're not running marathons, you get fat."

Now, we can't attest to the quality of the chain's bagels prior to Alper's deal with Einstein Bros., but we have had a few in airports fairly recently and they're not worth the schmear spread across their bready surfaces. Question: Why have we had a few and not just one? Answer: Because empty carbs hit the spot after some stupidly expensive cocktails and a sleepless red-eye to Cincinnati.

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