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By Joe Wilensky

To expand the production of her wildly popular West Coast bagel empire, Emily Winston ’00 drew on her engineering acumen—and an industrial-sized robotic arm. In March 2023, Winston’s Boichik Bagels opened a new, 18,000-square-foot production facility in Berkeley, CA, that boasts an automated dough production line.

Winston, who worked for General Motors before pursuing a passion for baking, designed the complex operation—integrating and modifying devices made by three manufacturers. Getting the equipment and systems to communicate effectively was a long process of debugging and tweaking, Winston says.

“The first time we turned on both parts of the line,” she recalls, “it basically threw dough all over the floor.”

Today, the process is smooth and synchronized. It begins with a giant mixer and lift that makes and transfers 500-pound batches of dough into a large hopper.

Emily Winston ’00 has been creating New York-style bagels on the West Coast
Winston has parlayed her engineering acumen into doughy domination.

Then an automated industrial baking system takes over and portions, cuts, and pumps out the bagels onto the moving production lines. The rows of traveling bagels are swiftly lined up on proofing boards—and that’s when Baker-Bot, a robotic arm with a six-foot reach, swings into action.

Produced by a robotics firm and customized for Winston, the arm transfers the boards (bearing two dozen bagels each) onto tall racks, sensing the next open slots and stacking the trays quickly and precisely. The doughy treats then head to refrigerators to proof overnight before being baked the following day.

The first time we turned on both parts of the line, it basically threw dough all over the floor.

The entire operation is deftly choreographed and unfolds with impressive speed, with Boichik employees supervising and making small adjustments as needed.

When the facility reaches full operation, Winston says, it should produce 12,000 bagels an hour—a tenfold increase over the company’s previous numbers.

“We now have the capacity to support as many retail stores as we could possibly want,” she says. “I built this with room to run.”

The BakerBot robot is helping Boichik Bagels reach production capacity of 12,000 bagels per hour
Baker-Bot on the job.

Winston’s dedication to a quality New York bagel goes back to her childhood in suburban New Jersey—so when she moved to California about five years ago, she found herself echoing many East Coast transplants in bemoaning the lack of good bagels.

“The one I wanted—the one I was so inspired by, my most beloved bagel—was from H&H, next to Zabar’s on the Upper West Side,” she recalls.

She and her father would make regular trips into the city to visit the famed side-by-side Manhattan bakery and appetizing counter, where they’d pick up bagels, cream cheese, lox, and more.

Says Winston: “When I learned that H&H had shut down in 2011, I was devastated, thinking, ‘I’m never going to have that bagel ever again.’ So I set out to recreate it for myself.”

Winston began what she describes as “a deeply obsessive hobby,” trying to replicate that H&H bagel in her kitchen using an eight-quart stand mixer.

“If you get anywhere in that bullseye, you can have that ‘Proustian madeleine moment,’ where people say, ‘Oh my god, this takes me back,’” she observes. “It’s not just the food; it’s all of these emotions and memories.”

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Winston’s dedication to a quality New York bagel goes back to her childhood in suburban New Jersey.

After five years of trial and error, Winston says, she landed on a bagel that was “pretty awesome.” She began selling them out of her home before opening her first shop in Berkeley in 2019.

Boichik Bagels had arrived. And the company’s cheeky slogan, printed on all its bags, makes that clear: “There are no good bagels in California,” it proclaims—though a bold red “w” has been jotted after the “no,” so it reads “now.”

Winston’s New York-style bagels became a California sensation; the San Francisco Eater dubbed her a “darling of the West Coast bagel world.”

And in what may be bagel heresy, a 2021 New York Times column that praised Boichik was headlined “The Best Bagels Are in California (Sorry, New York).”

The business grew even through the pandemic, and Winston added a retail store and café in Palo Alto. The new Berkeley facility also includes a shop and café, and additional locations are planned for the South Bay and East Bay areas and more.

At the cafés, the menu includes 14 bagel varieties as well as traditional bialys. Winston has kept the offerings simple, what she calls “hardcore, old-school New York.” That means several varieties of cream cheese and smoked fish, as well as jams and butters, plus coffee drinks and a few other baked goods.

“It’s supposed to be a slice of New York,” she says. “It’s almost like a theme park—my Jewish New York appetizing entry into Disney World.”

All images and video provided.

Published May 2, 2023


  1. Marty Lustig, Class of 1963

    How can we get them in Prairie Village, Kansas?

  2. Michelle, Class of 1994

    next you need to bring these to London!

  3. Kris Taylor, Class of 1969

    How about Washington, DC?

  4. Kyoko Yamada, Class of 1993

    I love your bagels and never realized you’re a fellow Cornell alum! Thank you for the bagels!!!

  5. Luis Chaya, Class of 1989

    Congratulations! wish I could get some!

  6. Steve Unger

    As a freshman engineer at Cornell in 1964, I remember an assignment to design a new lemon squeezer. I’ll bet that Emily Winston’s design would still be on a shelf at Target.

  7. Karen Haberman

    I wish you would open up a shop in San Diego. Also have a pop-up at Cornell during reunion. I will be there this year for reunion along with my husband, David Haberman BS’66 MS’69, both degrees,in Engineering. He grew up on West 72nd St and was very familiar with H & H bagels.

  8. Matt Gerhardt, Class of 1980

    I first learned of Boichik Bagels in 2020, when I read about Emily and her enterprise in the Northern California alumni email. I had some delivered and was hooked. The “pumperthingel” bagel, which is an everything bagel made with pumpernickel, is outstanding.

  9. Allan Yeung, Class of 2012

    Missed the event this time around

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