21 June 2011

Upper West Side Landmark H & H Bagels Shutters


H & H Bagels, one of the totems of Upper West Side existence, will close its classic Broadway location tonight. (It's closed already as I write this, meaning they didn't even give people a chance to pay a final farewell visit. Other reports said Monday.) 

The shop, a landmark to bagel-loving New Yorkers for 40 years, was the victim of mischief and mishandling on the part of the owner, Helmer Toro. In late 2009, Toro was accused of absconding with almost $370,000 in payroll withholding taxes owed to state and federal authorities from 2003 to 2009. In May 2010, he pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the case, wrote the Times. He was sentence to spend 50 weekends in jail and pay more than $500,000 in restitution.

The factory and shop at 639 West 46th Street will remain open, but who really cares. The real New York experience was visiting the curious, bare, but fancy (chandeliers?) shop at the corner of W. 80th. The bagels were so popular that they sold fast; hence, they were always fresh, and often warm. They were the big, soft sort of modern bagel of which I don't necessarily approve. And the blueberry bagels are just nonsense. But of their type they were excellent.

I've said before that whatever thin veneer of authenticity and integrity the Upper West Side still clings to depends on just a handful of places, among them Zabar's, Citarella and Murray's Sturgeon Shop. It's just lost a mighty pillar.

6 comments:

ironrailsironweights said...

Failure to pay withholding taxes is a sure sign of a failing business owner desperate to stay alive. It is no surprise whatsoever that H&H went down. As busy as it may have seemed, it wasn't making money.

Peter

Stephanie said...

But unlike most other lost places, this was entirely due to the financial shenanigans and mismanagement of the owner. Had he been more on the up and up, the store would still be around. Frankly, I'm surprised that the entire operation hasn't gone under.

Sofies Haus said...

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Linden78 said...

This is such a shame! H&H is one of the treasures of the Upper West Side. We just featured them in our "Best Restaurants of the UWS" blog post in April: http://www.linden78.com/best-upper-west-side-restaurants-classic-nyc-food-edition/

It's a shame to see such a popular business go under after almost 40 years of service. There really is no replacing H&H, and we Upper West Siders will truly miss them!

Anonymous said...

Jerry said...
I'm no bagel afficinado but those who are, H&H, especially of late, tell me the place wasn't anything to write home about. Overpriced and uneven. I can attest to the overpriced part, having been sent in to buy a dozen more than once. And the guy was shady. By the way, from those bagel talkers, Bagel Bob's and Tal's do OK.

Moshe said...

I feel sorry for the employees, first for the owner's deceit, then for the job loss, but "landmark" though it was to many, H&H sold the most overrated bagels in New York. I won't miss them.