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Like no other bagel in the world
June 22, 2011 3:08 AM   Subscribe

"Schmeared by the rent" - Manhattan's H&H Bagels is closing its iconic and much-loved Upper West Side location.
posted by beisny (56 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's the difference between karate and judo?
posted by orthogonality at 3:16 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between karate and judo? For a second, I was confused...
posted by beisny at 3:19 AM on June 22, 2011


The legendary bagel manufacturer, which was been featured on “Seinfeld” and which ships its bagels worldwide, has faced its share of problems in recent years. Last year owner Helmer Toro pleaded guilty to three felony charges for pocketing more than $300,000 in taxes owed to the state.

So, maybe more problems besides the rent...


NYC, one request: just keep Ess-A-Bagel open until I get back, alright?
posted by dubold at 3:50 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't forget that bagels are bad for you, so from a benefit to society perspective, this can be looked upon as a good thing.
posted by happyroach at 4:02 AM on June 22, 2011


Man, I liked that place. Used to go to church right across the street.
posted by valkyryn at 4:43 AM on June 22, 2011


Used to go to church right across the street.

Small world! I worship at the Zabar's fish counter too!
posted by Westringia F. at 4:49 AM on June 22, 2011 [27 favorites]


Don't forget that bagels are bad for you, so from a benefit to society perspective, this can be looked upon as a good thing.

DIE TROLL
posted by fungible at 4:54 AM on June 22, 2011 [19 favorites]


Don't forget that bagels are bad for you

Life is bad for you. The unbageled life is not worth living.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:55 AM on June 22, 2011 [24 favorites]


Suffice to say - combine a plutocrat mayor who referred to New York City as a "luxury product" with a town whose dwindling small businesses are at the mercy of the real estate market - and the result with be more and more banks, less charcter and soul, and many more stories like this.
posted by Hickeystudio at 5:05 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hickeystudio, I'm not so sure you can blame this all on Bloomberg:

Last year owner Helmer Toro pleaded guilty to three felony charges for pocketing more than $300,000 in taxes owed to the state. According to authorities, Toro took deductions from his employees’ paychecks but failed to pay sales and other taxes. He also manipulated the unemployment-insurance tax system, using shell companies to transfer employees from one business to another in order to receive a lower rate. H & H filed city and state withholding tax returns under six different company names, according to authorities.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:17 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The rent is too damn high!
posted by vitabellosi at 5:30 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did they ever get that steam valve fixed?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:39 AM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the more details that come out, the more this sounds less like a loss of "character and soul" and more like a tax cheat getting his comeuppance. Reminds me of DC coffee maven Nicholas Cho. Sure, he makes a good cup o' joe, but, yup, tax cheat.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:45 AM on June 22, 2011


MrMoonPie: I didn't realize Murky Coffee died of fraud. Somehow, that makes me feel better, like it's not my fault for not buying more coffee.

On the other hand, it's a little sad that a coffee place can only be profitable if it doesn't pay taxes or it's a big chain. When I was a kid, my big dreams were to own an indie bookstore and coffee shop. Now, both jobs are basically extinct.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:59 AM on June 22, 2011


.
posted by Beardman at 6:00 AM on June 22, 2011


From my vantage here on the Lower East, at least we still have Russ & Daughters.

Now I really want a bialy.
posted by functionequalsform at 6:09 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


We walked by H&H on Saturday, and while the signage was down, the store was still open. I thought they were renovating. I'm a little sad to see them go, but we had defected to Tal Bagels anyway. Better and cheaper. H&H was charging $1.65 a bagel.
posted by kimdog at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2011


Ha ha. East Side reprazent! We still got our H&H on Second and, what 81st? Though I have to say, I think I like Murray's better. Tal is OK; I think they're too crusty.

I do have fond memories of going to yoga studio right above the West Side H&H and it was insane torture to be lying around in savasana and smelling the bagels on a Sunday morning.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2011


East Side reprazent!

The East Side vs. West Side H&H battle is another story.
posted by beisny at 6:21 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Used to enjoy their bagels immensely. Another one bites the dust.

.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:29 AM on June 22, 2011


Don't forget that bagels are bad for you

Well, if you're talking about Lender's, maybe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The East Side vs. West Side H&H battle is another story.

Ha! I had no idea. Which side is affiliated with the one by the Intrepid?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:32 AM on June 22, 2011


H&H bagels are way too doughy and soft. They are very much like the kind of bagels you get outside of New York. The non-New Yorker's idea of a bagel. And so, when they began shipping around the country in earnest, and restaurants in other cities would proudly advertise that they carried H&H bagels, it made me sad. Because to undermine the ideal bagel in New York is not such a big deal--Ess-a-Bagel, Russ and Daughters, Zabar's, and many other places could provide a counterbalance. But to do so outside of the city helps diminish the chances of encountering a real bagel outside the five boroughs.

That said, neighborhood business are needed, in that neighborhood in particular.
posted by oneironaut at 6:33 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which side is affiliated with the one by the Intrepid?

That's the West Side H&H - it will apparently stay open, thank god.
posted by beisny at 6:38 AM on June 22, 2011


Feh. Where were the mourners when the superior Columbia Hot Bagels closed down?

Anyway, if you're at 80th and Broadway and need a bagel you're only 9 blocks from Murray the Sturgeon King, so I fail to see the problem here.
posted by escabeche at 6:41 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


What also might be of interest: bagels had for years been considered a Jewish item. It was sold as hot, by young lads, on street corners and quickly went stale. Then M. Lender came along, froze them and preserved them. He got sued. People cut hands while trying to slice moist, slippery bagels, so he pre-cut them. His biggest buyer? Grossinger's resort in the Catskills, who noted that the bagels were very small and thus guests could not pile on too many items, ie, cream cheese, lox etc.
Now of course bagels can be found in any and every town and made by people who should be in jail for shabby goods. But for me: give me a bialy anytime. and there is a nice spot in Lower East Side, NY, where they are made non-stop. (ps. they can be frozen if you get them there or a some place0.
posted by Postroad at 6:46 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I still don't "get" bagels.
posted by Eideteker at 7:08 AM on June 22, 2011



Now I really want a bialy.

You're on the Lower East Side...go directly to the source, Kossars Bialys on Grand just east of Essex.
I agree with oneironaut. H&H are too soft and fluffy. Bagels used to be teeth breakers-very very chewy, it was almost like a battle between you and the bagel. Now you can barely tell if they boil them before they bake them.
Bialys, on the other hand, were my guilty pleasure. They use one third the dough of a bagel, so no digging out the insides necessary...
posted by newpotato at 7:12 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]



That said, neighborhood business are needed, in that neighborhood in particular.


I agree 100%. I can't believe the how many amazing businesses have completely disappeared in the last five years. The places where my bf and I had our first three dates: Mozart Cafe, La Fortuna, and Edgar's... all gone. And those are places that had been around for decades. Landlords started cranking up rents and small businesses disappeared. Then with the recession, store fronts sat empty for a couple of years. Landlords hold out for chain stores, and suddenly the UWS Broadway corridor is looking like an upscale suburban shopping mall.
posted by kimdog at 7:16 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chiming in to agree that H and H bagels are too doughy and soft. And to add that I find Russ and Daughters bagels too sweet. And to propose that the best bagels come from Absolute Bagel, Broadway and 106th.
posted by Morpeth at 7:24 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ugh this thread is going to make me spend 2 hours going into the city to Russ's and get bagels and nova, isn't it?
posted by nathancaswell at 7:25 AM on June 22, 2011


The rent was too damn rye, amirite?
posted by fatllama at 7:34 AM on June 22, 2011


Seriously? Aw shit. This is almost as upsetting as the news of Clarence Clemons' passing.

That H&H at 80th & Broadway figures prominently in my past, in a very positive way -- which in and of itself is reason for mourning. My uncle lives around the corner, and has for as long as I can remember. When I was four (in 1973), my parents divorced. Starting with that year and continuing on until I graduated from college, instead of celebrating Christmas alone in our dingy apartment in Westchester, we drove down to the Upper West Side and spent Christmas Eve and morning with my uncle in his fabulous two-bedroom apartment, the one with the bookshelves filled with volumes of orange-spined Penguins and signed Chagall prints from his days at the Metropolitan Opera. Going there every year was a very big deal for me; I had a super shitty childhood (I've blogged about the significance of my uncle's apartment here), and those little oases of holiday joy were precious. They still are, as memories.

One of the highlights of those visits was getting fresh and warm H&H bagels for breakfast Christmas morning, which we'd have about halfway through the ritual of opening presents (and when the grown-ups went to get them, I'd peek at all the tags to see which ones were for me). I'll never forget the first year I was old enough to go get bagels on my own. I went out into the cold in my brand new Jordache ski jacket, feeling like a grown-up myself. When I actually came closer to being grown up, we stopped staying overnight, and we'd pick up a bag of warm bagels to bring home. Invariably, as we rode up the West Side Highway, I'd devour an everything bagel, sometimes so fresh it was too hot to eat.

Later, when I moved to Munich (different long story), my mother came to visit. The one thing I wanted more than anything was an H&H bagel, and I still remember her opening her suitcase and showing me the two dozen bagels she had splayed out in ziploc bags, on top of her clothes.

I'm in my 40s now, and where I live (in the Hudson Valley), bagels are lighter and airier. Some may prefer that, but I don't. I mean they'll do, but only barely.

Damn.

.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:41 AM on June 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


I still don't "get" bagels.
posted by Eideteker at 10:08 AM on June 22 [+] [!]


It's ok, Eideteker. The van will be along shortly to take you for re-education.
posted by oneironaut at 8:02 AM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


flyingsquirrel, will you marry me? :-) Great post, I'd favorite it a million times. Thanks!
posted by dbiedny at 8:08 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


dbiedny, ha! You just made my day. Alas, I'm spoken for. But next time I have a bagel (with butter AND cream cheese, thankyouverymuch), I'll toast to your sweetness.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:15 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The UWS seems unbelievably intent on destroying itself for such a supposed liberal intelligentsia haven. Broadway is looking suspiciously like Paramus.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:36 AM on June 22, 2011


o
posted by nickyskye at 8:43 AM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Chiming in to agree that H and H bagels are too doughy and soft...And to propose that the best bagels come from Absolute Bagel, Broadway and 106th."

If you think H&H were too soft, how can you possibly prefer Absolute, whose bagel presents no more resistance to the teeth than does a doughnut?
posted by escabeche at 9:09 AM on June 22, 2011


It's all about the mini-bagels at Absolute up on B'way and 108th, if you ask me. H&H was always over-hyped and a bit sweet for my taste.
posted by slkinsey at 9:10 AM on June 22, 2011



Chiming in to agree that H and H bagels are too doughy and soft. And to add that I find Russ and Daughters bagels too sweet. And to propose that the best bagels come from Absolute Bagel, Broadway and 106th.


Just coming in to say the same. Absolutely the best.

As for the state of the Upper West Side, I think the arrival of the "ironic" Urban Outfitters pretty much says it all.
posted by stargell at 9:14 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't been to Absolute in a while, but last time I was there I thought the chew was excellent. I agree with slkinsey about the minibagels. They are the best. The only thing I don't like at Absolute is the whitefish salad, which differs from the standard whitefish salad sold at many Manhattan bagel establishments. (And which can sometimes be purchased at Gourmet Garage.)
posted by Morpeth at 9:18 AM on June 22, 2011


My personal opinion that is that H&H is overpriced and over hyped. My bagel loyalty will reside in Brooklyn's La Bagel Delight
posted by wcfields at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2011


When I was a kid, my big dreams were to own an indie bookstore and coffee shop. Now, both jobs are basically extinct.
In my experience, indie coffee shops (the kind that charge more than Starbucks, have cutting-edge equipment, and fancy single-origin beans) are still opening all over the place.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:06 AM on June 22, 2011


I definitely came down on the Zabar's side of the debate, but I'm sad to see H&H go. Now that I live in Seattle (where light, fluffy, I-refuse-to-call-them-bagels are the norm) the differences between the various Manhattan bagelries seem pretty small.

As for the state of the Upper West Side, I think the arrival of the "ironic" Urban Outfitters pretty much says it all.

That linked post made me want to laugh and cry and make absurdist art all at once.

In my experience, indie coffee shops (the kind that charge more than Starbucks, have cutting-edge equipment, and fancy single-origin beans) are still opening all over the place.

Yeah, it seems like a pretty decent business bet, to be honest. In all my years of living in indie-coffee-shop-saturated neighborhoods, I've only ever seen a few close, and that usually seemed to be due more to poor management and weird ambience than anything else.
posted by lunasol at 10:24 AM on June 22, 2011


Meanwhile, Duane Reade drugstores are serving beer in-store, and no one seems to care. I know, off-topic, but Manhattan is becoming increasingly alien to me.
posted by dbiedny at 10:33 AM on June 22, 2011


La Bagel Delight is my favorite Brooklyn bagel place. Although I should admit that I have only been to the "independently owned" establishment in Fort Greene.
posted by Morpeth at 10:41 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


but Manhattan is becoming increasingly alien to me. Yes, to me as well and I am surprisingly emotional about this.

But then I ask myself: Isn't this the nature of dynamic cities and wasn't the Manhattan that I spent my childhood in (born in 84) "increasingly alien" to those of the generation before mine? And I am certainly sure that those who grew up in JD Salinger's 1940's Manhattan where put off by the Manhattan of the 60's (hell, I get nostalgic when I read Seymour, An Introduction and I wasn't even alive then).

That being said, there is nothing good about Urban Outfitters, or Banana Republic for that matter.

For some reason, Duane Reade has grown on me and seems to have established itself as a Manhattan institution in its own right.
posted by beisny at 10:45 AM on June 22, 2011


Postroad: "What also might be of interest: bagels had for years been considered a Jewish item. It was sold as hot, by young lads, on street corners and quickly went stale. Then M. Lender came along, froze them and preserved them. He got sued. People cut hands while trying to slice moist, slippery bagels, so he pre-cut them. His biggest buyer? Grossinger's resort in the Catskills, who noted that the bagels were very small and thus guests could not pile on too many items, ie, cream cheese, lox etc."

Those things are an abomination. The only bagels available in Amarillo, TX for many years while I was there. Lender's Bagels from Albertsons. Except they're not real bagels. They're faux hoops of dough that look like miniature bagels, but have no personality. They're tasteless, and feel nothing like the real thing.

Lender's Posers.
posted by zarq at 11:47 AM on June 22, 2011


The UWS seems unbelievably intent on destroying itself for such a supposed liberal intelligentsia haven. Broadway is looking suspiciously like Paramus.

Not above 96th Street, although technically we're Morningside Heights.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:20 PM on June 22, 2011


Oh and take heart -- Urban Outfitters at 99th is almost always empty!
posted by thinkpiece at 12:22 PM on June 22, 2011


Meanwhile, Duane Reade drugstores are serving beer in-store, and no one seems to care. I know, off-topic, but Manhattan is becoming increasingly alien to me.

from the link:
"So it decided to include something in the store that the neighborhood did not have: a bar that specializes in beer. "

Dear Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times: What?
posted by dubold at 12:39 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neither a borrower nor a Lenders be.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:00 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never liked bagels until I discovered the salt bagel. God bless (or more likely G-d bless) the kind soul who invented this amazingly pre-salted food.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:59 PM on June 22, 2011


In High School on the UWS, all we could really afford as snacks were these bagels. We always used to wish they would butter them up for you but even still, the plain plain was good. I would forsake my low carb diet for one more nosh.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 10:01 PM on June 22, 2011


Why Can't you get a good bagel outside of NYC?
posted by schmod at 9:47 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


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