November 13, 2018

Yeastie Boys Rolls Out Bagels With Attitude

Evan Fox, 32, grew up in Arizona, but in his early 20s spent enough time in New York to fall in love with that city’s bagels. When he moved to Los Angeles half a dozen years ago, he looked for a facsimile but was left wanting.

Three years ago, Fox decided he would introduce New York bagels to Los Angeles. He would make them here and create not just the product but the whole vibe. It was an audacious idea, considering Fox wasn’t a chef or restaurateur. He had waited tables and bartended, and his aunt had married the son of Reuben sandwich creator Reuben Kulakofsky, but certainly none of that made him a bagel expert.

“I’m just a fat kid that loves food,” he said.

Fox, who is Jewish, partnered with a chef friend who started toying with recipes. The objective: devising a bagel with a lot of flavor and a little bit of chewiness that also was plump. Fox secured the Yeastie Boys name — an homage to celebrated hip-hop group the Beastie Boys — and debuted his company at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2015.

“I like to be on the road. The street game is my vibe.”

— Evan Fox

Fox said preparing for Coachella was “the worst experience of my life … brutal.” He and his then-business partner and a bunch of friends gathered in a rented Hollywood kitchen and hand-rolled 10,000 bagels over the course of two weeks leading up to the festival. Despite such production challenges, the reception Yeastie Boys received at Coachella was very positive, Fox said.

About a week after the festival, the Yeastie Boys food truck hit the streets of Los Angeles for the first time, mainly doing a circuit of coffee shops downtown, in Silver Lake and in West Hollywood, where Fox lives.

Yeastie Boys (yeastieboysbagels.com) is mainly a bagel sandwich shop on wheels, with its slogan emblazoned on its truck: “Bagels — Lox — Shmear — Other S—.” You can get a plain bagel and shmear ($4), but most of its offerings are over the top and far from classic. Some might even call its menu items blasphemous. “The Game Over,” for example, features scrambled eggs, tomato, peppered bacon and cream cheese flavored with homemade beer cheese and flecked with jalapeño, all on a chewy cheddar bagel. (Some customers skip the bacon.) Another offering, with a name not fit for print, stars sliced bananas and Nutella. Specials sometimes include a matcha-green-tea cream cheese, vanilla-chai cream cheese, even red-wine-and-cherry cream cheese. Of the bagels, the one with the most photos on Instagram is the Hot Cheetos special — a fiery red looker enrobed in, you guessed it, crushed Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheetos.

Although Fox is very hands on — he is on the truck almost every day — there is one thing he no longer does: hand-roll the bagels. He has contracted the job of producing the bagels, but still using the Yeastie Boys signature recipes.

As for what’s next, Yeastie Boys’ reported plan for a brick-and-mortar location is being shelved, at least for the time being. Instead, Fox intends to roll out a second truck soon to meet the considerable demand.

He said he will keep doing the coffee shop circuit and big music shows and festivals where Yeastie Boys has become something of a fixture. He also will continue to do collaborations with musicians, like those he has done with two Los Angeles-area rappers. And he plans to keep pushing the boundaries of what a bagel can be.

“I like to be on the road,” Fox said. “The street game is my vibe. I like pulling up to different neighborhoods on different days.”