H&H removed its bagel oven from its 80th street store on Sunday and took the chandeliers out of the ceiling on Monday, presumably destroying whatever slight hope Upper West Siders had of the store being saved. But the company is already looking for a new place to sell bagels on the Upper West Side, National Business Manager Marc Fintz (below, left) said on Monday night at a rally held in Riverside Park. Fintz was coy about where exactly the new store might set up shop, but he said that the company is considering locations close to the old store, which is at the corner of 80th Street and Broadway.
The rally, led by Upper West Sider James Besser (below, right), did not have the promised free bagels (boo!), but about 25 people showed up, stood in a circle, and collectively yearned for a simpler, more neighborhood-y time. Then everyone went off to play with their dogs.
But Fintz shed some light on the company’s recent travails. H&H is locked in an eviction dispute with landlord Friedland Properties, and went to court over the issue today. The company owes more than $300,000 in back rent, Fintz acknowledged. H&H simply can’t keep up with the monthly $67,500 rent: to pay that rent, the company would have to raise the price of its bagels to $2.40 each, Fintz said. The $1.40 price now is already pretty ridiculous, especially for a place that makes you spread your own cream cheese.
Fintz said that H&H would be willing to pay rent somewhere in the $40,000s. He also said he has heard the landlord is already planning to rent out the space to a bank — he couldn’t say which one, only that it wasn’t going to be Bank of America. (Of course, saying a bank will go into the spot is a sure way to get Upper West Siders angry at the landlord that you’re in court with. So maybe take that with a grain of salt for now.)
H&H owner Helmer Toro, who was convicted last year on tax charges and has been spending weekends in jail, ripped down the sign at the front of the store more than a week ago “as a symbolic gesture,” Fintz said. I asked him why Toro apparently hadn’t told the employees about their futures with the company, but he said Toro has been working constantly to try to find some way to keep the store open.
As for when the bagel shop will actually close? Fintz now says he thinks it could be Thursday, but I am officially not believing anyone anymore who says they know when H&H will close. The “closing date” seems to change every day. The store, meanwhile, is being torn apart. The chandeliers are down, being replaced by ugly fluorescent lights. The bagels are now all being trucked over from the company’s 46th Street location.
Besser says the next rally will be held next Tuesday, location still unknown.
For other recent Upper West Side openings and closings, check out our new list and map.
Photos by Avi.