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Where To Eat: Jimmy & Joan’s New York, Gothenburg.

New York is one of those places you see in movies and dream about visiting when you are a child (not living in the US). I had the chance of visiting New York in winter 2014 and I still remember New York as something different. It wasn’t Times Square, the flashy shops or tourist attractions like the Statue of Library or the Empire State Building that was special for me though. No, what I remember was the lights, the air, the thousands of thousands cars (and all the yellow TAXI cars), the rush, the vibe, the feeling and just . . . New York.

About 3 years ago I got an invitation to an opening event here in my own home city, Gothenburg (Sweden), where it said “we invite you to the private invitation-only celebration Jimmy & Joan’s New York”. I took my sis with me and I still remember that evening as if it was yesterday. It was glam, it was New York – but in Gothenburg – and that was the start of something big opening in my own home city that I want to tell you all about today. So listen up, I’m about to tell you all about Jimmy & Joan’s New York.

Göteborgs bäst bagels?
Ett besök på Jimmy & Joan’s New York i Göteborg

Bagels hörni, det är kraftigt underskattat! Tror jag åt mina första riktigt bra bagels i New York, men i brist på resande har vi hittat ett riktigt bra ställe på Teatergatan bredvid Avenyn i Göteborg – Jimmy & Joan’s New York! Här kan man sitta och drömma sig bort till gula taxibilar, storstadshets, Central park, Broadway-shower och långa shoppingdagar.

Jimmy & Joan’s New York är ett autentiskt New York-ställe, men i Göteborg. Elizabeth som driver stället har tagit med sig de amerikanska bagelrecepten från sina föräldrar, Jimmy & Joan, och hittat ett koncept som verkligen funkar.

Stylish inredning, trevlig personal, fina cupcakes och heavenly blueberry cheesecake. Och bagels, bakade av någon som verkligen kan och perfekta på det där sättet som bagels ska vara. I flera varianter, med massor av olika fyllningar. Helt klart värt ett besök om du vill ha något att äta i Göteborg!

Credit…Magnus Egger


Credit…Sara Bagenholm
Just like New York — only in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“I just thought, ‘How hard can it be?’ It’s bread and it’s schmears, cream cheese,” said Elizabeth Rubin, 55, an expatriate from Manhattan who opened Jimmy & Joan’s New York, a chic chandelier-lit shop, three years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden. “It was so much harder than I thought.”

There’s the baking itself: days or weeks of trial and error, with different flours and enzymes, to replicate a New York bagel’s distinctive chewiness and crust; adapting the recipe to the local humidity and temperature; and adjusting the amount of time bagels need to “nap,” or proof.

But there’s also the marketing — how to shape expectations and build interest in a New York staple that, overseas, may be entirely unfamiliar.

“People didn’t understand why they had to pay the same price for bagels as compared to their sandwiches, because of the hole in the middle,” said Jonathan Jablonski, the founder and chief executive of Factory & Co., a Paris-based chain of 33 bagel (and now burger and salad) shops, with another 10 set to open in the months ahead. “We had to explain the whole idea.”

While most of Ms. George’s clients seek to conjure what she calls “the authentic New York experience,” many aim to — or need to — incorporate local influences: a labneh yogurt spread instead of cream cheese in the Middle East, bagels with Emmental cheese in France. In Paris and Brisbane, Australia, where crowds lean more toward lunch than breakfast, bagel sandwiches feature pastrami or grilled halloumi.

The first event of many!?This morning was an absolute bless with all the guests that came and the energy that they brought with them. The Breakfast Club is a new concept that we started to bring people together. Todays theme was Rulebreakers, Doers and people that are making moves (…Yeah we had some pretty cool people there?). We wanted to cross generations so we invited people like @eriknissen who is the daddy of all rule breakers, we had sweetheart and bussiness girl @malvinasofie, @oregonkenneth from @winemechanics, Paulina who runs @100kitchenstories, the superstars Emelie and Andreas that runs @beetsgbg, @christofercoffee who makes the best coffee with his @damatteo, @jennieramer… well the list goes ON!
Thank you @organiqsocks, @creativeheadz_se and @blomrum for being our sponsors for the event this morning. You are the best!✨
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Upon moving to Sweden, American Elizabeth Rubin found that she was longing for the food she used to eat back home. But rather than going back to New York, she brought her home city to Sweden, in the form of Jimmy & Joan’s New York. This Gothenburg-based café offers up authentic favourites from the Big Apple – everything from cheesecake to freshly baked bagels – and has amassed quite a following in the weeks since its opening.

When Rubin relocated to Gothenburg in 2006, she was far from new to the country. Having married and had a son with a Swede, she had spent summers and Christmases in her then-husband’s home country. But making the move to live full-time in Sweden proved a tricky transition for the native New Yorker.

“I don’t think that anyone can prepare you for moving to Sweden!” she laughs. “Before I took the plunge, we’d holidayed here, and I’d always liked it as a straightforward society, one that would allow me to get away from the rat race. It was simpler than New York, more affordable. It felt safer. I fell in love immediately with the closeness to nature, the sea being right on your doorstep.”

“Yet, when we moved here, I wasn’t prepared for the lack of noise. I found it deafeningly quiet. As a New Yorker, that took quite some getting used to; after 8pm, it’s quiet everywhere. I had to adjust to not being able to get anything at any time.”

There were other elements of Swedish culture that clashed with how Rubin was used to living. “In Sweden there are lots of unspoken rules and routines, some of which didn’t make any sense to me – ‘on Fridays, we eat tacos’, ‘we eat sweets on Saturday’. I found myself trying to conform to these rules and, in doing so, started to lose part of who I was. I felt I had to do something to re-discover who I was in Sweden.”

And re-discovery came, in the form which felt most natural to the seasoned entrepreneur. Rubin, who had previously started her own beauty businesses in the US, threw herself into setting up a café serving up what she knew and loved best: New York food.

“I wanted to bring the food I’m passionate about to Sweden – recipes I enjoy most from home. When I opened Jimmy & Joan’s, that was my one rule: everything I sold would have to be one hundred percent authentic New York food.”

And although Rubin doesn’t serve Swedish food in the café, she holds certain elements of local cuisine close to her heart, waxing lyrical about the delights of Swedish seafood. “It’s beautiful. Oysters, fish, shrimp. I’ve had some of the best, freshest seafood I’ve ever tasted in Sweden.”

The café has deep personal connections for Rubin: “The concept of Jimmy & Joan’s is all about my family – Jimmy was my father and Joan was his twin sister. The whole place is a love letter to my family, who have all now passed. The navy blue walls are the colour of my childhood home. The recipes for the food we serve were my mother Charlotte’s recipes. It’s a place that lets me be close to those that I’ve loved and I’ve lost. Every day I get to have the people I’ve loved around me.”

Rubin wants her customers to feel a personal connection to Jimmy & Joan’s, too. The café’s Instagram spotlights those who come through the building’s doors, telling their stories and making them a part of the brand’s history: “The concept of the place is ‘simple things, done to a high quality’. It’s a beautiful place, but it’s not intimidating. People talk to each other, people listen to each other. People want to hear each other’s experiences. And I like to look after customers – if someone’s having a hard day, I give them a piece of cheesecake on the house. It’s a very individualized approach to running a business.”

While the café has enjoyed immediate success among locals in Gothenburg, already securing a loyal customer base, getting the site open was not always plain sailing. Rubin notes: “I noticed that I needed to get past a lot of bureaucracy in Sweden – everything takes a long time. It was a shock to the system for me; I’m used to getting things done quickly, so it was frustrating at points.”

“I was building my business over the summer, but everyone in Sweden was on holiday, so had to look further afield to stock the café – I even got my door handles from England. But it turned out to be a positive, as everything in the building looks unique.”

Rubin’s experience as an entrepreneur in Sweden has given her insight into setting up a business in this country. “For any international person wishing to start their own company in Sweden, I’d say: know your DNA. Know who you are. Don’t water it down. It’s the way that you can keep your business authentic to your vision. Sweden is so open to the international scene right now – turn your point of difference into your strength.”

And while Rubin is well and truly settled in Sweden, with a bilingual son and an established business here, there are still aspects of her character that can make for lost-in-translation moments in her day-to-day life. “Often in Sweden people think I’m upset if I raise my voice. I have to explain to them, ‘I’m just excited – I’m a New Yorker, that’s how we talk!'”


Doing Things Differently