14 August 2006

Bialy's Stock

Kossar's Bialys has a new awning, which may be the only new thing Kossar's has invested in in decades.

You know Kossar's, right, the store whose bialys know no equal? It sits on Grand Street near Essex in the used-to-be-very-but-now-not-so-much-or-maybe-not-at-all Jewish Lower East Side. It does not do bagels, as everyone in the whole ding-dong world now does. It does the still somewhat obscure baily—flat, floury, indented, flecked with onion. (Actually, Kossar's does do some bagels, but nobody cares.)

For the longest time, the unpretty store bore a white, translucent, plastic sign with red letters reading "Kossar's Hot Bialys." ("Hot" was in a red box—the level of aggressive advertising at the time.) The sign was backlit, giving it a sort of dim, Hopper-esque illumination. Neon it wasn't. Now they have a spanking new, crust-brown awning with Kossar's spelled out in graceful letters. Whatthefuck? What did they need that crappy piece of gentrification for? It's not like Kossar's doesn't do business hand over fist. Slavish schmucks drive in from Jersey, Westchester and Long Island every Sunday morning to load up.
Awnings look good on Main Street in Westport or New Canaan. On Grand Street, they're out of place.

The hardscrabble kitchen inside is still the same, thank God. One of the things I've always loved about Kossar's is it isn't really a store; it's a busy bakery that they allow you to enter for a few second to buy some bialys—then, Get Out!

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