This weekend, Tompkins Square Bagels celebrates its one-year anniversary at 165 Avenue A. On the eve of the occasion, we asked proprietor Christopher Pugliese to reflect on the past year.
On the local community:
"I'd really like people to know how thankful I am for their support. I've met so many amazing people at Tompkins Square Bagels this past year, you could not imagine. Every type of person. What a great great community we have. Anyone who says the spirit of the East Village is gone or done is absolutely wrong. The people are here."
On what he's most proud of:
"One of the things I'm most proud of, and maybe something that landlords should pay attention to, is that I made it without a liquor license. They were dangling that in front of me like a carrot if i agreed to pay a little more in rent. I made a decision early on — no liquor, no cigarettes, no targeting the school kids around the block by filling my place with junk food and candy. No lotto tickets. I was going to either live or die being a responsible member of the community. And I lived."
On the future:
"I'd love to put an old-fashioned Italian-style pork store/market type of place in the Diablo Royale Este space next door. [The bar temporarily closed late in August; it is not expected to return. The space is on the market.] I want to knock down a wall in TSB and connect the two. I want to have meats, fish, cheeses, coffee, bread, groceries, pre-made food, pasta, etc.
I'm interested in doing this because I live here and, personally, I'm tired of having to walk blocks and blocks for a decent piece of fish or some good pasta. Where I grew up in Brooklyn, we had places like Pastosa Ravioli. Have you ever been to one? It's like an Italian pork store, pasta shop and gourmet food place all rolled into one. There's a real neighborhood here on Avenue A. The people are here. Yet, they don't have basic needs met like a good market."