The Jew And The Carrot

A Final Bagel from H & H

By Lillian Swanson

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The sign is gone at the legendary H & H bagel shop at West 80th and Broadway. A TV truck with its long-prong antenna is parked out front. On the sidewalk, people pull their smart phones up to eye level and snap away.

Today is reportedly the last day of the Upper West Side bagel shop, and the lines inside run eight and 10 deep. It’s one last go round for these hot and doughy bagels, fresh from the oven. The man behind me in line holds a hand-written petition to keep the shop open. Others in line take photos of the signs above the counter, where the bagels wait in bins for hungry customers.

I live in the neighborhood, but have been here only once before. I naively ventured in months ago and asked for a bagel with light cream cheese. The counterman snapped back at me, “We don’t sell them that way.” Off I went empty handed.

But drawn by colleague Josh Nathan-Kazis’s warm memories of the bagel shop, I came back again this morning to order a dozen. This time, I knew to take the cream cheese and lox spread from the cooler and not ask for anything more.

Alas, I wasn’t aware of another rule, the place only takes cash. So after my order was rung up, I had to slip away to an ATM (at Zabar’s coffee shop across the street) and return with bills in hand. Note to self: They might be closing, but they’re still in charge. I hurried by subway to the office hoping the bagels would still be warm and the cream cheese cold when I got to work, at the Forward. Once there, we sliced the bagels, laughed about the Flaum Lox Spread and told stories about what a visit to H & H had meant to us over the years.


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