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Nate’s Steamed Bagels Sees Rapid Expansion Throughout Columbus

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Nate’s Steamed Bagels Sees Rapid Expansion Throughout ColumbusLeft to right: Director of Operations Matt Zimmer, Founder Nate Schott, and Chief Food Officer & General Manager Juan Cortes-Fontcuberta. Photos by Lauren Sega.
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One of Columbus’ newest food trucks will set up shop at several new locations this year. Nate’s Steamed Bagels, founded in 2017 by Nate Schott and launched in food truck format last summer, has partnered with Antiques on High, and will soon be available from the Brewery District to Franklinton, to the South Side.

The concept was just a twinkle in Schott’s eye as he was attending Miami University of Oxford and routinely slamming the steamed bagel sandwiches from the Bagel & Deli on the college’s campus. 

“I decided that I would open Nate’s Bagels some day,” he said from the inside of the Steamed Bagels truck. After moving from Ohio to Chicago, and back to Ohio, he went four years without his fix, one day resolving that, “I had to bring it back. I bought a steamer that night.”

From there, Nate’s kicked off the same way most pop-ups and food trucks do: by serving his friends and family in his spare time. Initially, Schott used the business to drum up funds for Pelotonia, a race he participates in annually. With no real culinary expertise or experience, Schott solicited the help of now-Chief Food Officer Juan Cortes-Fontcuberta to help him tweak and execute the menu.

Cortes-Fontcuberta grew up with a mother and grandmother who were always cooking at home, “and I just loved cooking a lot,” he said. “I’ve worked in kitchens my entire life, so I was constantly surrounded by food. When I went to OSU, I took some cooking classes there, and it just furthered my love for the stuff.”

One of his major contributions were the five homemade sauces on the Nate’s menu. Chipotle mayo, parmesan peppercorn, green goddess, an Italian dressing, and a roasted garlic aioli — all are scratch-made by Cortes-Fontcuberta, “and that’s what makes it for a lot of people.” Each sauce comes on the side (along with a single Hershey kiss) of Nate’s eight bagel offerings: the Breakfast Bonanza, Cali Club, Turkey Crunch (with Doritos), Pizza Bagel, What’s Up 1 (named for Juan), Italian Stallion, Edgy Veggie and Blueberry Bliss.

Director of Operations Matt Zimmer joined the ownership team just a month before Nate’s Steamed Bagels officially launched at Platform Beer Co. There, they tested their concept with a free kitchen and guaranteed clientele, and ended up securing $2,500 in donations to Pelotonia.

“The product really came to life. People loved it,” Schott said, “so we were like, ‘Wow, there’s something here.”

From there, the team knew they wanted to offer Nate’s to the public in a bigger way. As plans for the food truck started coming together, they kept participating in city events to stay relevant, appearing at CU’s All Things Brunch Festival, a 5K for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and more popups at Platform.

Then they met with the ownership team at Seventh Son to talk about a potential partnership at their sister location, Antiques on High (AoH). 

“We knew that was the right spot for us just by the nature of who they are as operators,” Schott said. “The environment they foster and the products that they serve, and the way that they do business just totally aligned with who we are.”

After AoH’s opening in November of 2018, Nate’s started rolling up every Saturday and Sunday during brunch hours, running orders inside to people retreating from the cold of winter.

With all the exposure, Nate’s has since popularized, and their week is gradually filling up. Beginning in April, they’ll start serving the crowds at Parsons North Brewing Company at the East Public Development.

And on Fridays, Nate’s Steamed Bagels will be one of the rotating food trucks at the new Gravity development in Franklinton. Brett Kaufman, Founder and CEO of Kaufman Development, the firm behind Gravity, said they’ve had an eye on Nate’s for awhile.

“We’ve been kind of periodically advising him, keeping tabs on what he’s doing, and really have seen his success start to blossom,” Kaufman said, adding that Gravity will see three or four food trucks throughout the week. Though the other partners have yet to be locked in, they’re looking to create an “eclectic mix of healthier options, a variety of different kinds of ethnicities and cultures to continue to build upon the Gravity ethos,” he said.

At Gravity, Nate’s will set up on the east side of the property, adjacent to the upcoming restaurant, which has yet to be announced. There, they’ll expand their clientele, serving businesses including Bark and Roosevelt, and the nonprofit that started it all — Pelotonia.

“As we go on, Pelotonia will always be near and dear to our hearts, but we want to be inclusive and really support our community in whatever way we can,” Schott said. “We started with the purpose of community in mind. Ultimately, a portion of what we do will always be focused on the community, whether it’s financially giving back to it, or donating time, or hosting at non-profits at events, or whatever it might be. It’s really important to us, and at the core of who we are.”

For more information, visit natessteamedbagels.com.

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