Keith Cohen

Coolstuff Team
March 8, 2024

Meet Keith, owner of NYC bakery institution, Orwashers, founded in 1916. After being passed from generation to generation, Keith Cohen purchased the business from the Orwashers in 2008 after having worked in the NYC bread business for decades. Orwashers continues to be known for its classic versions of baked goods associated with New York City itself, like rugelach, babka, and black & white cookies. PS If you were at our 200th newsletter party, you enjoyed a TON of Orwashers baked goods!

What led you to purchase the iconic Upper East Side Bakery, Orwashers, in 2007?

Simply put, I wanted to own a piece of New York history. In 2007 I was going through a work transition, and I had known about Orwashers for the length of my 14-year career in the bread industry. I had to risk every single dime I had. I believed in myself, and it needed to work. I never take the easy way out. Since then, we’ve added two other bakery locations; our café on the Upper West Side at 81st and Amsterdam featuring our “bread lab” and lots of seating, and our newest kid on the block, if you will, on Willis Avenue in Roslyn Heights on Long Island. It’s the perfect spot to stop, just off the L.I.E. on your way out east to decompress with an Edith’s Iced Café Slushie and our better bacon, egg and cheese…or any other number of our baked-on-premises treats.

Do you have a favorite bread or pastry from Orwashers?

Favorite bread? That’s like asking, DeNiro or Pacino! I love our signature Pain au Lait aka our Brioche Roll, our newest creation, the Heritage Sourdough—it’s a sourdough lover’s dream. It has a uniquely long fermentation time that builds its complex flavor. The result is a beautiful open crumb and burnished crust. And our classic Cabernet Sesamo; it feeds so well, and you can have it with anything. But I do have a rotation; those three are just a start. And my current favorite pastry is our Apple Honey Cake, which we recently introduced.

What’s your favorite part about the New York creative community?

I like being able to collaborate—and commiserate—with the New York creative and restaurant community. Building the Orwashers brand while bringing up other small businesses. My favorite times, and I wish I could spend more of my day doing, are at food events, mixing it up with other manufacturers and producers, for example, makers like Elyssa Heller of Edith’s in Brooklyn.

What’s the best restaurant in NYC?

I don’t have just one; that’s like asking me to single out my favorite bread! Some of my go-to’s right now are Gramercy Tavern, Noodle Pudding in Brooklyn Heights, Peter Luger, Felice on the UES and Minetta Tavern.

What’s new on the docket for Orwashers' products?

Our Heritage Sourdough, seven days a week at all three locations. Serve it warm, slather on some salty butter and…WOW.

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