H&H BAGELS CLOSING: THE CENTER OF THE BAGEL WORLD DISAPPEARS INTO A BLACK HOLE

The Upper West Side location of H&H Bagels, arguably the most famous bagel store in the bagel center of the world, will close its doors for good this week. It’s hard to overstate the significance of this news. If Upper West Siders were the rioting type, we would start to riot. We would throw lox and capers.

A sign at the store on 80th Street and Broadway that was first reported on by the Wall Street Journal gave the grim news and directed Upper West Siders to the company’s 46th Street location.

Let’s just make this clear: Upper West Siders will not be going to 46th Street and 12th Avenue for their bagels.

This was not an entirely unforeseen event: first, H&H owner Helmer Toro was sentenced to 50 weekends in jail for tax evasion and forced to pay more than $500,000 in back taxes and unemployment insurance dues. Then a top backer of the bagel emporium filed for bankruptcy. The bagels, meanwhile became more and more expensive: most recently they sold for a whopping $1.40 each.

But closing? Closing? How can a store with the cultural cache of H&H just go away?

H&H opened in 1972 when Helmer and his brother-in-law Hector Hernandez bought Midtown Bagels on 80th Street and renamed it using their first initials. (How great is it, by the way, that Puerto Ricans made the most famous bagels in the city? Only in New York).

The bagels’ distinctive taste (one rumor was that they used sugar in the recipe) and the store’s perfect location in the center of the Upper West Side, made them a huge hit. The store has been featured in all sorts of movies, including You’ve Got Mail and Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery. And it was featured prominently in a Seinfeld episode where Kramer tries to go back to work there after being on strike for 12 years.

Okay, I will write more on this later, maybe tomorrow. I need a shvitz.

Photos by Laughing Squid and panduh via flickr.

FOOD, OPEN/CLOSED | 1 comment | permalink
    1. Harriet says:

      Truth be told, I haven’t bought a bagel at the “real” H&H location in about 6-7 years. The bagels were both too big AND too expensive. West Side Market gets my vote for the best bagels in the West 70’s and West 80’s. And of course when I’m on a carb splurge, I buy the new-fangled “flagels” (flat bagels) at Fairway. The are so popular they sometimes run out of them by mid-afternoon.