Bringing Bagels to Malibu
A winter break vacation to Mexico for Pepperdine University students and friends Amir Savar, 23, and Mario Andrighetto, 21, was wildly productive. Not only did they get some R&R, they also hatched a business plan.
“Our concept was that we tried to think of what Malibu doesn’t have,” Savar said. “It doesn’t have cheap food (except for fast food), and it doesn’t have gourmet bagels. We thought, ‘That’s it!’
Savar was an English major and graduated in May. Andrighetto is a marketing major about to start his senior year. Now, the two are partners in Malibu Bagel Co.
Rather than a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, the friends bought a food truck. Every day since June 1, they have taken to the road to serve their eager customers.
The first location was the Malibu Relay for Life, a 24-hour anti-cancer race at Sycamore Canyon. Most days, you will find them starting the day by 7:30 a.m. at First Point, Surfrider Beach. They want to be there when the surfers come bounding out of the water, famished for breakfast.
Although the truck carries a variety of conventional bagels (plain, chocolate chip, blueberry, sesame, onion, cinnamon raisin, whole wheat), Savar is proud of what he calls their “gourmet bagels,” (jalapeño cheese, onion cheese, nine-grain and pizza).
He gets even more excited when he talks about their bagel sandwich combinations. The three most popular are:
- The Zuma: chocolate chip bagel with Nutella and fresh-cut strawberries
- The Drainpipe (named after what surfers call Westward Beach): cinnamon raisin bagel, fresh cut bananas, peanut butter and honey
- The PCH: onion cheese bagel, cream cheese, heirloom tomatoes, avocado, fresh cracked black pepper
“And soon we’ll have the Westward Bagel Panini,” Savar said. “You get a jalapeño cheese bagel, some bacon or sausages, grilled spinach with onions with salt and pepper. Put that all on your toasted bagel, along with some cheddar or Jack or gouda cheese, and you hot press it like a panini.”
They feature a bagel of the month to entice customers into trying something new. This month is a BAT—avocado spread on a plain bagel, salt, pepper, heirloom tomatoes, bacon and mozzarella, and then flat pressed.
Bagels from the truck are supplied by a family-owned bakery in downtown L.A. Don’t even think you’re going to get them to tell you the name. Savar said they want to keep the competitive edge, and they don’t want the other bagel trucks that recently sprang up in Southern California to know where they gets the secret ingredient.
He said they water boil all the bagels.
“They are made the way they are supposed to be made,” said Savar with a laugh. The gourmet bagels are seasoned on top, then baked.
Prices range from $2.50 to $10, depending on complexity. Savar said he knows many surfers don’t carry money with them, so he will work with the community to set up personal accounts.
“For example, today two people didn’t have money,” Savar said. “The way I see it, if these are Malibu locals, they will pay us. If they don’t pay me in the future, well, I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t offer them credit anymore. Being flexible like that also promotes the idea of a very local community, which is what Malibu is. “
His day starts early.
“I wake up at 4 a.m. and drive to L.A. to get bagels and pick up the truck at the commissary (a truck depot where it is stored overnight),” Savar said. “I try to be back in Malibu by 7 to 7:30 a.m.”
His first stop is at First Point. Sometimes, he will park the truck near Café Habana, or occasionally on Pacific Coast Highway at Westward or Zuma Beaches. The truck usually stays at each location for at least two hours, but often much longer.
Each morning. he also gauges the surf, and in doing so, figures out where his biggest crowd is likely to be.
“Surfing is the heart and soul of the youth of Malibu,” Savar said. “So we expect a large contingent of surfers. We’re trying to build up a clientele that is loyal to us.”
By 11:30 a.m., Savar is off duty, and turns the truck over to business partner Andrighetto, who works from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some evenings might find the company truck at the Malibu Inn when it closes or near Café Habana or at another event in town. Saturday, the truck might be at a Truck Lot (a collection of food trucks in various parts of L.A.) and Sunday will find them at the Malibu Farmers Market selling bagels from Table No. 10. They can’t do their signature sandwiches at the market, but you can buy a bagel (or 12) if you like.
The pair also deliver their bagels to Malibu homes, zipping around town in their signature Smart Car. There is no charge for Malibu deliveries, which can be either daily or weekly.
“We only deliver in Malibu,” Savar said. “We really want to keep this local.”
Other new initiatives on the horizon, Savar said, are that they expect to be selling their bagels at PC Greens in September, and they are trying out the idea of a food truck meetup on Tuesday and Friday nights at the Eco Auto Spa on PCH.
Savar said his company is offering something unique to the bagel market because “we don’t focus on the standard bagel.”
“Cream cheese and lox has been overplayed,” he said. “Sure, we keep it on the menu, but we wanted to reinvent the way people eat bagels. People only consider a bagel as a breakfast food, but in reality, it can be eaten all day, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
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