All Aboard for Bagel & Barista Station

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 All aboard! The next stop is Bagel & Barista Station. Rockaway’s newest eatery has arrived on Beach 116th Street.

On Friday, September 10, All American Bagel & Barista Station opened its doors to the community, serving up fresh bagels, deli sandwiches and salads, a wide coffee selection and more. The name may sound familiar as the folks behind this new eatery have been in the business for over 20 years. Starting in 1998 with the original All American Deli in Broad Channel, the Pisanis’ food businesses have become a staple from Howard Beach to Rockaway. Some may know All American Bagel & Barista in Lindenwood, which is still going strong. The Pisanis also brought All American Bagel & Barista 2 to Broad Channel but have since sold the business. They even spent some time in Rockaway with the former Two Nine Deli on Beach 129th Street, and Rockaway was calling them back.

Co-owner Rob Pisani says the landlord of the building that formerly housed Rogoff’s and Thank You café had been asking him to open a bagel store in the area since 2015. As Rogoff’s was nearing closure, the landlord asked him again last fall and the timing felt right. “I talked with my brother and partner, and we all decided to do it. When we were in Rockaway on 129th, I loved it. I know we have a good product and we used to do great there. With All American in Broad Channel, we used to do catering in Rockaway every weekend. With Beach 116th being a little more centralized, and seeing Rogers cleaning up and with them fixing PJ Currans, we thought it’s a good time to put something here,” Pisani said.

Rob Pisani, his brother, Alex Pisani and their partner Joey Gagliardotto agreed to bring the best of the All American Bagel & Barista brand right to Beach 116th. And then work began.

Pisani’s eateries are known for homemade menu items with fresh, top of the line ingredients, including their hand-rolled, kettle cooked bagels. With the new place, they decided to bring back some of the favorite menu items from Two Nine Deli but wanted to give the new place its own identity. Being near the subway and in front of a major local bus hub, Pisani decided to go with a subway station theme. “We wanted to have that niche. The train is here, the buses are here, and we liked the name Bagel & Barista Station,” Pisani said. They added subway tiles to the walls, subway-style signage, and of course, graffiti to tie it all together. Even some of the menu items follow the theme, with certain sandwiches named after A train stops such as the Fulton Philly and a roast beef hero called The Jay Street.

But locals may recognize some other familiar names for the sandwiches, breakfast items, burgers, wraps and paninis on the menu. The burgers are named after neighborhoods on the peninsula, from the Far Rockaway Burger with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos and grilled onions to the Breezy Burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, bacon, and jalapeno pepper jack cheese. Those looking for something healthier may shoot for the Summer Classic, a wrap with hummus, feta, cucumbers and roasted peppers, while Christ the King alumni may recognize the CK Royal, a honey turkey sandwich topped with crushed Doritos. Other items are a little more personal like The Big Busta, a chicken cutlet sandwich named after Tim Tubridy. The Clarebear, a chicken salad sandwich on a bagel, was a favorite of the late basketball star Clare Droesch. And some items are named for family members such as The Buttner—a fried eggplant panini named for Pisani’s wife, Jamie, and The Roc Strong—an egg white and turkey bacon breakfast sandwich named in honor of Pisani’s son, Rocco, who has been putting up the ultimate fight against leukemia.

Some may even spot them hard at work at Bagel & Barista Station. Pisani’s wife has been greeting customers since they opened their doors, Pisani’s nine-year-old daughter, Charlie, has been wiping down tables, and even Rocco is putting in heavy lifting. “Rocco wants to do it. He had a spinal tap on Wednesday, and he was here on Thursday, doing stock and taking orders,” Pisani said. “He does it so confidently. His work ethic is insane.”

Besides having the family help, Pisani prides himself on mostly hiring locally. “Every store I open, I always try to hire local kids. About 80% of my employees are from Rockaway or Broad Channel,” Pisani says.

While many local bagel and deli spots are designed for takeout, Pisani hopes that Bagel & Barista Station can be a place where everyone comes to hang out. “I just want it to be the place where everyone meets. I have a bike rack outside so kids can come here. I want to see families here. I want it to be a meeting spot,” he said.

With indoor seating, Bagel & Barista Station can seat about 30 people. But they also offer delivery and quick takeout options for those on the go. The eatery has a separate express door, where people who use their soon-to-come app to pre-pay for orders, can access this side door and pick up their order in one of 16 cubbies when it’s ready. “You can pull up and be in and out in 15 seconds,” Pisani said.

Bagel & Barista Station is also a beverage-lover’s dream. With a high-end coffee machine, they can make your favorite lattes, macchiatos, frappuccinos and more with a variety of flavors. Their self-serve coffee station also features about 15 flavors of iced coffees and teas, as well as ten flavors of hot coffees. They even have a slushie machine, serving up four different flavors, and once they have their liquor license, Pisani says they can use it to make summer frozen drinks, in addition to serving beer.

Even more is expected to come. To get into the swing of things, they’ve started with limited hours from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they plan to stay open later. After all, they’ll have dinner offerings. As Pisani’s All American brand is known for its catering, which they also offer out of the new spot, they will soon have hot food like chicken francese, meatballs, meatloaf and other dinner specials. Plus, in the future, they may add a soft serve ice cream machine, and even a donut machine to make fresh donuts on site.

In the meantime, you can make a stop at Bagel & Barista Station and see the many options they have for any appetite. They plan to have a Grand Opening ribbon-cutting celebration on Saturday, October 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., where they’ll have giveaways, face painting, music and more.

Bagel & Barista Station is located at 212 Beach 116th Street. They can be reached at 718-318-0828. For a full menu and more info, check out www.bagelbaristarockaway.com  and follow @bagel_barista_rockaway on Instagram for updates.

 By Katie McFadden

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