Ess-A-Bagel's Gramercy flagship, which has held down the corner of 21st and First since 1976, will be forced to close by March 23 because its landlord has denied its lease renewal. Next-door neighbors Grill 21 and Rose Restaurant will face similar fates. The beloved mom-and-pop bagelry is set to be replaced by a Bank of America and, because New York real estate is nothing if not devastatingly ironic, another bagel shop called Tower Bagels.
Details are still up in the air but rumor has it that owner David Wilpon is open to reopening the restaurant in a new location decidedly not in Manhattan, possibly the Bronx. If you don't want to make a transborrough trek to fulfill your bagel craving, Ess-A's 831 Third Ave location will remain open and New York's got plenty more big-league bagels to help ease your sorrows.
UPDATE: Ess-A devotees may be in luck: The flagship First Avenue shop is eyeing a new spot just a few blocks away, potentially in the former Frenchman space near 20th St. The bagel shop announced this news, and hushed rumors of its Bronx move, via Twitter this weekend, saying:
Don't worry fans of Ess-a-Bagel's 1st Ave location, our delicious hand rolled bagels are just moving down the block!! #NYC'sBest=EssaBagel— Ess-A-Bagel, Inc. (@EssABagel) January 17, 2015
No signed lease has confirmed the shop's shuffle just yet, but there's a bit more to the story of the move. Ess-A owner David Wilpon's now former landlords have released a statement disputing his claim of being ousted from the bagelry's decades-old home:
“When we purchased the property, our main priority was to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. Ess-A-Bagel is a tradition in this city and we had no desire to see them leave. In the three years since, we’ve bent over backwards to come to a mutually fair agreement with Ess-A-Bagel’s owners. Our offer would have allowed Ess-A-Bagel to remain — and even gave them the option to expand — in the space they are in currently. Unfortunately, it takes two sides to make a deal, and Ess-A-Bagel’s owners repeatedly refused to meet us between their below-market rent and current market value. We regret that Ess-A-Bagel chose to misrepresent our intentions in the press. We take our responsibility as landlords very seriously and worked diligently to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. At a meeting in September, Ess-A-Bagel confirmed they were actively negotiating a lease at a new location. We wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors.”