By Sabina Mollot
Tal Bagels, which earlier this year Town & Village learned would be replacing the now-closed Ess-a-Bagel alongside a new Bank of America, should open in June, one of its owners said.
Mohammed Kamal, who, with a partner owns three other Tal Bagels shops in New York, also explained why signs announcing the small chain’s newest location have been seen on other storefronts. (One sign’s next door to Ess-a-Bagel at the former Rose, a chicken restaurant, the other at a space nearby on First Avenue last occupied by kiddie salon Beehives & Buzzcuts.)
The owner of the Ess-a-Bagel/Rose building, an LLC owned by L&M Development CEO Ron Moelis and others, will be chopping down the wall inside that separates the two aforementioned storefronts, so that Tal and Bank of America will both be able to fit, Kamal said. Another partner at Tal, Sam Zebib, explained that the bank will only occupy 350 square feet for ATM machines. The rest of the space at 359 First Avenue, about 1,000 square feet, will be for the bagel shop. Along with bagels, Tal will also offer some pastries and espresso.
Additionally, Kamal said that with other partners, Tal will be opening a shop/restaurant for smoked fish, similar in style to downtown institution Russ & Daughters. That business will go into the space at the former Beehives & Buzzcuts at 365 First Avenue, which has about 2,000 square feet, Kamal said. It may not be called Tal and there is not yet a planned opening date.
“It’ll be fish and salads, European smoked fish like herring,” said Kamal. He explained that in just the bagel shop space, there wouldn’t have been enough room for bagels as well as “the full line” of fish.
At one point, while this reporter was on hold during the phone conversation, a recorded message touted Tal’s smoked fishes, which include sturgeon, baked salmon and whitefish.
Tal’s other locations in New York are at 86th Street, Lexington Avenue and 54th Street. There are also two locations in Tel Aviv, where Kamal is from. Zebib is from Lebanon.
On the move to First Avenue, Zebib said, “It’s an opportunity for us to expand and move downtown and see what happens. I really like the area.”
Town & Village first reported in January how Ess-a-Bagel, the neighboring Rose restaurant and another restaurant around the corner on 21st Street, Grill 21, did not get their leases renewed. Rose and Grill 21 closed, but Ess-a-Bagel’s owner vowed to open nearby. Ess-a-Bagel’s owner had said he was told by the landlord that he took too long to sign on the dotted line while the landlord said Ess-a-Bagel wouldn’t budge when presented with a rent increase that brought the space up to market rate.