Why Rosenberg's Bagels Quit Third-Party Delivery — Then Partnered Exclusively with DoorDash

Find out why this Denver-based bagel shop partners with DoorDash exclusively to grow a profitable off-premise business.

15 min read
Mx blog - Rosenberg's - featured image

Disclaimer: This merchant was compensated for their participation in this testimonial. 

When Joshua Pollack moved to Boulder, CO for college, he found that the area's bagels, pizza, and deli sandwiches just didn't live up to those he experienced in New York and New Jersey. A fifth generation New Yorker on his mother's side, Pollack explained: "I longed for the food I grew up eating. The food lineage from Manhattan and its surrounding areas are part of my soul." 

After starting his career in finance, Pollack then enrolled in cooking school, apprenticed at a family friend's bagel shop in New Jersey, and returned to Denver to launch Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen (after his mother's maiden name) as a pop-up in 2012. After months of product development and construction, he opened his first brick-and-mortar store in 2014. 

"The community was my support group," Pollack said. "It was very grassroots; we didn't do a lot of marketing. But it turned out the feeling I had, the longing for this food, was familiar to a lot of other people who were transplants in Denver." 

At Rosenberg's, customers can enjoy New York City-style bagels, gourmet smoked fishes, house-made spreads, specialty coffee, and more. Pollack spent months building a system to recreate New York City water — the key ingredient that makes the area's bagels and pizza so special. "We take no shortcuts with our bagel production," Pollack said. "It's a painstaking, multistep process that takes several days from start to finish in order to make our bagels as authentic and delicious as possible."

This uncompromising commitment to quality applies to all of Rosenberg's ingredients, from heritage-breed pork bacon to local cage-free eggs to fresh fish smoked in house. 

Joshua Pollack

"I want my customers to feel the authenticity and care and attention to detail we put into making bagels the way they've been made for over 100 years. We like to say 'Born in New York but made in Denver.'"

Joshua Pollack, Founder & Owner, Rosenberg's Bagels and Delicatessen

Pollack's passion and keen business sense helped him hit the ground running and open additional NYC-style restaurants. Today, Pollack operates two Rosenberg's Bagels locations, two Famous Original J's Pizza slice shops, and the deli and marketplace Lou's Italian Specialties — all operating under the Bridge & Tunnel Restaurant Group

Mx Blog Rosenberg's pastrami

The initial attempt at third-party delivery

Before the pandemic, Pollack signed up for multiple third-party delivery platforms, including DoorDash. "I saw the value in the efficiencies created by these platforms, because I couldn't hire delivery drivers at an affordable rate and keep them busy all day," Pollack said. 

But Pollack ran into some challenges with his third-party partners. A recurring frustration during that time was the lack of integrations between delivery platforms and his Toast POS system. Pollack ended up buying additional software to integrate them, but it still wasn't a smooth experience. And with tight margins, he ultimately couldn't make the commission fee structure work for his business model at the time. 

So in 2021, once guests began dining in at restaurants again, Pollack made the decision to end his partnerships with all third-party delivery platforms, allowing his team to regroup and decide on a path forward.  

Mx blog - Rosenberg's - salmon lox

Giving third-party delivery another chance — but only with the right partner

About a year later, Rosenberg's signed up with multiple platforms again to help boost revenue and test if third-party delivery could work for their business. After this second round, Pollack decided to partner with DoorDash exclusively. 

Pollack liked that DoorDash had Denver-based sales reps and account managers who understood his need for seamless technology, advanced analytics, and a focus on profits, not sales. "The downfall of a lot of sales pitches is that they like to talk revenue, but they don't talk about profits," he said. "Sales don't mean anything if you don't make a margin on them." 

Pollack was also impressed with DoorDash's market share and marketing tools: "We already had a pretty good following, so I was looking for a partner who would not only help with delivery services, but also get my name out to people who didn't know about us." 

Leveraging the full suite of DoorDash solutions to drive growth

Pollack uses the full suite of DoorDash solutions across his five restaurant locations. He appreciates that DoorDash Storefront allows him to easily add online ordering to his own website — with no monthly fees or commission fees — and recommends it to businesses thinking about partnering with DoorDash. Pollack customized his Storefront page's logo, colors, and fonts to reflect the Rosenberg's brand.

Joshua Pollack

"Storefront is the best product ever. If you have a brand that people love, Storefront is an option for them to order from you for delivery at a much lower rate to you because they're already your customer."

Joshua Pollack, Founder & Owner, Rosenberg's Bagels and Delicatessen
Mx blog - Rosenberg's Storefront screenshotRos

Today, about 40% of Pollack's overall orders across all locations come from DoorDash. Of those, approximately 46% are on Storefront, helping to improve their profitability. 

While Storefront is great for Rosenberg's existing customers, Pollack uses DoorDash Marketplace and DashPass (DoorDash's loyalty program that offers $0 delivery fees and other benefits to consumers) to reach new customers and drive repeat orders. 

"A lot of our DoorDash orders are either new customers or people who order more frequently because of our placement on the app," he explained. "That’s really exciting to me, because here we have an opportunity to work with a tech company that can give me visibility." 

From July-December 2023, the Bridge & Tunnel Restaurant Group saw approximately $130,000 in average monthly DoorDash Marketplace sales, with an average order value of $32.83. 

Pollack also uses DoorDash's suite of marketing tools, including Sponsored Listings, Promotions, and Storefront Marketing. When they opened a new Famous Original J's Pizza location, they offered a $0 Delivery Fee for New Customers Storefront promotion to attract new customers. Looking at all of the Promotions they've run across all locations from September 2022-July 2023, the Bridge & Tunnel Restaurant Group was able to achieve a 8.7X average return on ad spend (ROAS).

Pollack dives into the data to understand which marketing strategies will be most profitable for their business. "The DoorDash team is great at walking you through marketing tools and identifying what works best in the market for building repeat business or attracting new customers," he noted. "It gives us a toolbox to look at and analyze in real time where our marketing dollars should be spent."

Joshua Pollack

"Being a business and finance major, I see in spreadsheets and graphs. DoorDash has all that available for me, especially with the marketing metrics so I know where my dollars are coming back in."

Joshua Pollack, Founder & Owner, Rosenberg's Bagels and Delicatessen

Pollack also uses DoorDash's Toast POS integration, which helps him get a full view of dine-in and off-premise sales. For the downtown Rosenberg's location, he uses DoorDash Drive, an on-demand delivery solution that gives them access to Dashers to fulfill delivery orders from the Rosenberg's website. With Drive's flat fee pricing structure, he can simply pass the cost onto the customer. 

Always looking for ways to improve his business, Pollack appreciates that DoorDash listens to his feedback and brings him into the product development process. "That's another great thing about DoorDash," said Pollack. "If you're loud enough and enough customers want the same thing, DoorDash will develop that product or feature." 


of Bridge & Tunnel Restaurant Group's DoorDash sales are commission-free Storefront orders


average return on ad spend (ROAS) of Promotions campaigns


of overall orders across all locations come from DoorDash

Ensuring off-premise profitability 

When it comes to ensuring profitability, Pollack points to the benefit of using multiple DoorDash products, which each have different pricing structures that bring different economics to his third-party orders. "I look at it as a blended rate," he said. "We have different rates depending on how people order." 

For example, he notes that the higher-profit sales from Storefront and DoorDash Marketplace pickup orders balance out the higher commission rates of DashPass orders. "It works really well for us because we have a lot of people coming through Storefront and pickup," Pollack explained. "And on the flip side, DashPasse members order a lot more from us than a lot of other people." 

Mx blog - Rosenberg's - egg and cheese

Optimizing DoorDash operations

The Rosenberg's team implemented several techniques to help drive DoorDash sales and ensure efficient operations: 

  1. Add high-quality menu photos: Pollack understands the importance of food photos to drive sales. "We just did another round of photos for all the brands to make sure there's consistency throughout the menus," he said. "People are used to online ordering so menu photos have to look nice." 

  2. Optimize delivery menus: Pollack applies menu psychology techniques to delivery menu descriptions, layouts, and placements. "There's a lot of effort in menu design at a sitdown restaurant; where something is placed dictates how much it gets ordered," he said. "We have to get into that psychology for online delivery menus, too." 

  3. Redesign the store layout: The Rosenberg's team optimized their restaurant kitchen layout for delivery. "We have a lot more shelving in the expo station," he noted. "We created a staging area for takeout orders in the kitchen, and we put a counter in the back so drivers can pick up orders without dealing with any lines or registers." 

  4. Train staff on delivery handoffs: Pollack also makes sure his staff are trained on handling DoorDash orders. Tips include: making sure Dashers confirm the order was picked up before they leave, and having a staff member double check the items and hand the orders to Dashers, rather than Dashers grabbing the order themselves. He also suggested having a bilingual team member at the pickup area in case a Dasher doesn't speak English. 

When it comes to Dashers, Pollack employs a "catch more flies with honey" method. If an order is incorrect and they have to remake it, he encourages his staff to offer Dashers a coffee while they wait. "You have to play nice in the sandbox," he noted. "Our rating from drivers is high, which makes it easier for other drivers to want to take our orders." 

Joshua Pollack

"We try to make it as smooth as possible for drivers — in terms of parking, pickup processes, and communication."

Joshua Pollack, Founder & Owner, Rosenberg's Bagels and Delicatessen

Of course, Pollack acknowledges that there will occasionally be issues: "In a population of human beings, there are going to be some bad apples. But DoorDash is really good about blocking those drivers." 

A bright future for Rosenberg's

For now, Pollack wants to focus on his existing stores and find creative ways to improve their products, customer service, and profitability. "We got a gut punch with the pandemic, inflation, and labor shortages, but we feel really good now and just want to keep feeling good," he said. "We want to focus on ourselves, and how we can get better." 

Pollack has big ideas for the future — including reopening their ice cream store Sherry's Soda Shoppe, doing a pop-up burger concept, selling their smoked fish in local grocers, and opening more locations of their existing brands. "I like to say food is my favorite pastime," he said. "It's a connector, it brings families together, and it's always been the core of what brings me joy."


Sara DeForest
Sara DeForest


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