Co-owner Mike Wenzelberg at the new shop in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Carb fiends rejoice! Ess-a-Bagel’s new shop in Stuyvesant Town opened to a soft opening on Sunday, after multiple delays following an initially planned reopening date of February.
On Tuesday, following the Labor Day weekend, by noon, the line was already snaking around the back of the shop to 10 people and one of the owners, Mike Wenzelberg, reported business had so far been good.
Wenzelberg also sat down with a Town & Village reporter to discuss the reasons behind the delays, the controversial decision to install a toaster at the new shop and the company’s rabidly loyal fan base.
On Sunday, he recalled how a young woman outside, upon seeing Ess-a-Bagel was open, was “dancing and jumping.” Already, he’s seen quite a few regulars from the original location across First Avenue, which lost its lease nearly two years ago to Tal Bagels.
Toasty (not toasted) Ess-a-Bagels (Photo by Danny Chin)
By Sabina Mollot
On Thursday, Ess-a-Bagel announced via Facebook that the long delayed store opening in Stuyvesant Town would be some time early next week.
“Will post the exact date over the weekend. Happy Labor Day and look forward to seeing you all next week!!” read a post.
Owner David Wilpon didn’t return a call for comment but said previously that the delay in opening had to do with numerous permits.
Ess-a-Bagel at 324 First Avenue was originally supposed to open in February, nearly a year after the company lost its lease across the street to Tal Bagels.
Since then three permits have been approved by the city for work related to the new store’s renovation, for signage, sprinklers and floors.
By Wednesday, Town & Village reader Danny Chin alerted us that good news was in the air.
“I was lucky enough to get a photo of the 1st test batch of bagels from the new Ess-a-Bagel,” he said. “They were testing out their new oven as I was walking by this afternoon. The bagel was nicely blistered and crispy.”
Ess-a-Bagel is coming to Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Melanie Frost)
By Sabina Mollot
Over half a year after closing its longtime home on First Avenue, Ess-a-Bagel will be reopening nearby — in Stuyvesant Town.
The new location is also on First Avenue at 19th Street.
One of the owners, David Wilpon, had previously told Town & Village (off the record) that he was working on a deal but the final papers hadn’t been signed as of last week. Talks had been going on for at least a couple of months though. On Friday, however, a banner was spotted in the store’s window at 324 First Avenue, and residents have already been cheering the news on Facebook and on local blog EVGrieve.
Another owner, Muriel Frost, told T&V on Friday the lease had been signed on Thursday. The new location will be bigger, which will allow the bagel shop to do things that couldn’t be done at the old shop.
“We will do catering and also delivery, which we were not physically equipped to do before,” Frost said.
Frost also said management at Stuyvesant Town had so far been very accommodating whenever Ess-A-Bagel had a request.
“They are very congenial; I really must praise them,” she said.
Meanwhile, Frost said she’s not worried about the new bagel shop in town, Tal Bagels, which got Ess-A-Bagel’s old space at the corner of 21st Street, since Ess-A-Bagel is well known. “We don’t see them as a threat,” she said. “With God’s help and everyone’s good wishes, we will open and we will have a ready audience.”
What took so long in reopening was that other places they’d looked at didn’t end up working out. One landlord on First Avenue, she recalled, changed his mind.
As for when the new location will open, Frost isn’t sure, because it has to be renovated first.
As Town & Village first reported in January, Ess-A-Bagel lost its lease, as did its neighbor, the now-closed Rose restaurant, and Grill 21, another neighboring eatery’s space, was also put on the market. Grill 21 is still open there though on a month-to-month lease. The landlord, an LLC owned by L&M Development head Ron Moelis and others, said it tried to make a deal but Ess-A-Bagel wouldn’t budge when given a rent increase. Ess-A-Bagel’s owners, however, said they were in the midst of negotiations when the landlord told them they were taking too long to sign on the dotted line.
Back in May, Stuyvesant Town’s general manager, David Sorise, said in an interview that Ess-A-Bagel would be “a great tenant to have,” and that tenants often request food-based businesses for the property’s retail spaces.
“It’s not just about which person’s going to pay the most rent,” Sorise said at the time.
Tal Bagels opened in Ess-a-Bagel’s old space on September 25, with a Bank of America soon to open next door.
Having two bagel joints so close to one another may not be the undoing of either company since further south on First Avenue, opposite Stuy Town, sit two other bagel restaurants, David’s and Bagel Boss.