Bagel sandwiches are a well-loved staple of brunch and lunch fare, rarely seen in the late-night food world. But Cocky’s Bagels' newest restaurant, located smack-dab in the middle of Cleveland’s East Bank of the Flats at 1127 Old River Road, is set to change that.
On the weekends, the restaurant’s hours will nearly reach 24-hour capacity, opening bright and early at 7 a.m. and closing at 3 a.m. Along with a fun-loving drinks menu, Cocky’s will serve food until 2:50 a.m. (10 minutes before close).
“I don’t know when we’re gonna sleep,” said business co-owner Natalie Bata. “We’re still trying to figure that out.”
Then again, Bata and her fiance and business co-owner, Keene Cockburn, have figured that part out before.
Back when they first started the concept of Cocky’s Bagels — named after a play on Cockburn’s last name — it took the form of a scrappy food trailer that they bought off of Craigslist. The aim was for Cockburn to craft tasty bagel sammies for the masses. Bata also found inspiration from Bagel & Deli Shop, a staple of her time spent studying at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Hitched to a rusty 1995 pickup truck nicknamed “Old Blue,” Bata said the earliest days of Cocky’s Bagels were a far cry from its future trendy brick-and-mortar locations in Cleveland and North Olmsted.
But the menu — a mix of breakfast sandwiches, toasts and standard lunch sandwiches, all served on bagels — earned a quick and large fanbase in Northeast Ohio that regularly led to sellouts at its earliest events, some of which took place outside of Around the Corner, where Bata once worked as a bartender.
“I was supposed to go to medical school; I was bartending to try to offset costs and Keene had his full-time job,” Bata said. “On the weekends, we were doing it from, like, 11 p.m. to 3 o’clock in the morning. It became a staple late-night thing in Lakewood.”
The first Cocky’s Bagels storefront opened in North Olmsted in 2019, and its success led to an opportunity for Cocky’s to expand to the Flats in 2020. Flats developer Scott Wolstein approached Bata and Cockburn with the idea of bringing the concept to the new Flats development on Old River Road, Bata said.
Once a liquor license entered the conversation, Bata and Cockburn were able to envision their restaurant fitting right into the neighborhood.
“That’s when we were like, ‘All right, now we’re talking.’ Now it makes more sense for us to be here, specifically,” Bata said. “The goal was always to come downtown and always expand our brand and reach more people in Cleveland."
The Flats location of Cocky’s Bagels features vibrant neon lights, plants and TVs tuned in to sports games in nearly every corner. A garage door rolls up to a patio bar, with a row of statement-making swing seats swaying outside.
“This is essentially an expanded version of North Olmsted, an enhanced version of it. Over there, we literally handmade everything,” Bata said. “This was a little bit more professionally done and we were able to figure out how to make it still stick to our theme and our vibe, but we also added more of a level of sophistication.”
Coupled with the playful layout are drinks and dining menus that complement one another: Look no further than the “Big Daddy” breakfast sandwich stacked high with bacon, sausage, egg, hash browns and cheese, and the “Big Mama Mary” Bloody Mary drink topped with a hash brown, sausage patty, bacon and olives, with an everything-bagel seasoned rim.
The menu also features a variety of coffee drinks, some with alcoholic versions — like an espresso martini and spiked vanilla latte — and, soon, waffles and ice cream. Belly-filling options like pizza bagels, Italian sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, acai bowls and salads will also be available for order.
Cockburn and Bata have seen growing success with their homegrown concept, and that success has started to ripple outside of Northeast Ohio. Cocky’s Bagels is set to open its first location in Columbus in 2023, and the couple aims to franchise the bagel sandwich version of the business in other locations, too.
But first, they’ll get the Flats spot open this weekend.
Cocky’s Bagels is set to host its grand opening 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2. Along with the opening, customers can also enjoy a Browns watch party featuring music, giveaways and vendors according to a Cocky’s Bagels Instagram post.
“We never thought that we’d have a bar in the Flats, so it’s definitely quite a good feeling,” Bata said. “We have Cleveland to thank because they support us through everything.”
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