Golden, Colorado-With the recent acquisition of bankrupt Einstein/Noah Bagel Corp., New World Coffee-Manhattan Bagel Inc. is positioned to become the "Starbucks of the bagel industry," chairman and CEO Ramin Kamfar says. "We are now the undisputed leader of the retail bagel industry, with 800 stores."

Eaton, New Jersey-based New World was the winning bidder in the U.S. bankruptcy court last month for the assets of Einstein/Noah. New World bought the 465-unit chain for $160 million in cash, plus the assumption of about $30 million in operating liabilities.

The goal is to expand the acquired chains through franchising and nontraditional locations, Kamfar says, adding that there would not be much change in the look and feel of Einstein Bros. Bagels and Noah's New York Bagel stores. Company executives also expect to strike more licensing deals, such as the one Einstein/Noah worked out with Aramark. That on-site food service company will operate Einstein Bros. Bagel stores on college campuses. Kiosks and small units in airports will also be pursued.

Einstein/Noah, which has expanded its lunchtime menu, has become a leader in the fast-casual segment, Kamfar says. "Einstein's is ahead of the curve," he adds. "Lunch is where the whole bagel market is going. Lunch is where the action is." -Nation's Restaurant News