Ruby’s Bagels Moving To Oklahoma Ave.
Owner buying vacant building on 11th and Oklahoma in the 'Crisol Corridor.'
Ruby’s Bagels is poised for big growth and a new home. The food truck-based business would buy a vacant, city-owned building for use as a cafe and bakery.
Led by Daniela “Ruby” Varela, the business launched in 2019 and has lived a nomadic existence. Most recently, it’s operated out of a food truck at Zocalo Food Park and a rented commercial kitchen in a church.
The new space, located at 1107 W. Oklahoma Ave., will unify the baking and cafe operations, while providing space for seven-day-a-week operation and growth.
Varela told the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee Tuesday morning she’s long dreamed of a permanent home. It would offer a place to enjoy Varela’s “great and addicting” bagels fresh out of the oven while also enjoying a coffee.
“She could go anywhere, but she chose our Crisol Corridor,” said area Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic of the growing business district anchored by S. 13th St.
Ruby’s has developed a strong following, and Dimitrijevic praised Varela for being a proud Latino business owner.
“I got the inspiration in Cleveland, Ohio in 2017,” said Varela. She realized she couldn’t find the same “amazing bagel” in Milwaukee. Varela spent two years perfecting her version and working through permitting, before doing pop-ups and ultimately landing a truck at Zocalo.
She recruited her mother and aunts to help bake and said they’re now better than her.
But disaster struck last summer when the business’s commissary kitchen was destroyed in a June 22 fire. Ruby’s lost more than 1,000 bagels as well as its mixer and refrigerator to the blaze.
Despite community support, the business was out of action for several weeks as Varela searched for a new commercial kitchen space. Ruby’s reopened on July 8.
Varela said she currently operates Friday through Sunday because of limits with her new leased commercial kitchen space.
Ruby’s offers plain, rosemary sea salt, everything, poppy seed, sesame and cinnamon cranberry bagels along with plain or flavored cream cheese including strawberry, jalapeño or green onion and cheddar.
Bagel sandwiches with bacon, egg and cheese, smoked salmon and other fillings are also available.
Orders can be placed online for pickup at Zocalo.
Varela would pay $115,000 for the one-story, 1,796-square-foot building and invest approximately $225,000 in property improvements.
The city acquired the building through property tax foreclosure in 2019 from Viva Advanced Healthcare Inc., which had used it as a medical office building. The structure was built in 1952 according to city assessment records and includes a rear parking lot. It has been used for medical tenants for its entire existence.
“We are really happy to have Danielle and her business in our district,” said Crisol Corridor Business Improvement District director Leif Otteson. He noted that her family lives nearby, only strengthening the connection to the community. He said the building has been boarded up for two years.
Dimitrijevic said it was an example of a property going from “blight to right.”
“We are excited for you,” said committee chair Ald. Michael Murphy to Varela. The committee unanimously endorsed the sale. The proposal will go before the full Common Council on March 21.