Raw eggs. Bread flour. Yeast. Black Forest ham. Turkey. Smoked Gouda and a myriad of other cheeses by the pound. And, of course, bread and bagels. Who knew a local bakery would be just what the doctor ordered in challenging times?
Founded in 1992 by husband-and-wife Michael Keegan and Lynn Olson, Manhattan Bread & Bagel quickly became a local institution and a valued part of the South Bay. In fact, the entire cinematic universe can partially thank the Keegan family for the classic film Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino, then a video store clerk, would stop by to pick up bagels on a regular basis while writing the screenplay in the back of the late and much-lamented Video Archives, which was located next door to the bagel shop.
“We think the lack of travel will increase local purchases. We will be making lots of holiday cookies, cakes and treats for local families. We also plan to expand our offering to a larger variety of fun and special treats.”
Due to the decline of home video rentals, Video Archives closed in 1994 and Manhattan Bread & Bagel took over their space. Tarantino may have been too busy to notice—at the time he was accepting the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Pulp Fiction.
Michael still runs the family business, but Lynn left the bakery many years ago and has served as a Superior Court judge for the past 14 years. Michael is an active member of the community. He generously donates cash and goods to local schools and area charities and twice served as mayor of Hermosa Beach.
He heard from customers that there was a desperate need for food staples and other items during the early days of the pandemic. As wholesale and retail sales dropped, he reached out to suppliers and was able to get his hands on various food staples: eggs, flour, yeast and other baking essentials.
Michael was quite happy when he noticed local neighbors posting on Nextdoor about the products Manhattan Bread & Bagel was selling. “We saw a nice uptick in sales of these hard-to-get staples,” he says. They added only a minimal markup to the wholesale prices, and their lower prices increased the demand.
Masks were more difficult to obtain than food staples, so an employee’s mother made masks for the staff in the early days. Michael eventually connected with a firm importing 1 million masks a day at Ontario Airport. As of October, they have sold more than 30,000 masks to customers … and more than 25,000 eggs.
With Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah on the horizon, Keegan and his staff of 26 employees are busy preparing for a return to some sense of normality. They will be following their long-standing tradition of preparing their customer’s favorites: their famous fresh-roasted pumpkin pies, baked apple pies and delectable pumpkin cheesecake.
Michael Keegan believes this will be a busy holiday season. “We think the lack of travel will increase local purchases,” he says. “We will be making lots of holiday cookies, cakes and treats for local families. We also plan to expand our offering to a larger variety of fun and special treats.”
The employees at Manhattan Bread & Bagel suspect the same culinary delight that got everyone through the most perilous days of 2020—old-fashioned sourdough bread—will continue to be a favorite during the festive season. Of course there will also be a large assortment of rolls, breads, pull-apart buns, homemade stuffing mix and fresh-made cranberry sauce to ready your dinner table.
Thanks to this Manhattan Beach institution, we will enjoy bread, family and the holiday spirit as we close a year like no other.