Friday, January 16, 2015

[Updated] Report: Landlord forcing Ess-a-Bagel from its longtime home


[Image via]

Ess-a-Bagel, which has anchored the corner of First Avenue and East 21st Street since 1976, is being forced out of its longtime home.

According to Sabina Mollot at the Town & Village Blog, none of the restaurants on that corner — Ess-A-Bagel, Grill 21 and Rose Restaurant — are getting their leases renewed.

Per the article:

David Wilpon, the owner of Ess-A-Bagel said the longtime bagel joint may be moving somewhere close by but it’s nowhere near a done deal. “There’s a lot that’s up in the air,” he said, adding that he’s still holding out some hope of staying put. He’s also requesting a holdover and is in the midst of negotiations.

Wilpon said the trouble with his lease started when his aunt, Florence Wilpon, who’d founded the businesses in 1976, died. This was in September, 2013 during the midst of negotiations for a renewal. After that, while the family was dealing with the will and related issues, “They claimed we weren’t getting back to them in a timely fashion.”

The landlord, L&M Development Partners, reportedly already has a Bank of America and Tower Bagels fitted for the Ess-a-Bagel space.

And this sounds familiar: "Wilpon chalked up the impending closure as part of the pattern of the city’s landlords preferring to oust mom-and-pops in the hopes of getting a corporation that can pay more."

Head over to the Town & Village Blog for more details.

There's a second Ess-A-Bagel at 831 Third Ave. in Midtown East.

Updated 6:08 p.m.

A spokesperson for East 21 Retail LLC sent us the following statement:

"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."

H/T Brian Van

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

I give up. I give up.

Anonymous said...

BTW, pix is of the uptown location.

This is an outrageous act by a greedy landlord, forcing a business out that's been a tenant for 35 years or more, but hey... what else is new in BloomYork.

Anonymous said...

This would make sense, as the blocks between 20th & 22nd are completely devoid of bank branches, and there are only 3 others between 19th and 23rd. Something must be done.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for fixing the Pix, Grieve.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks 10:27... Not sure why I did that! I swapped out the photo!

Unknown said...

This HAS to STOP!!

Giovanni said...

Wow, another bagel shop getting pushed out. Just last week we were discussing the lack of bagel places in the EV, and how you have to go up 1st Ave. or to Tompkins Square Bagels (with half hour long lines out the door on weekends) now that Everything Bagels on 3rd Ave. shut down.

Ess-A-Bagel is a thriving business, if they can be pushed around then what hope is there for any local business?

It seems like the successful mom & pop stores are playing a game of musical stores lately, every time a lease expires they have to move a few doors down, which costs money and makes no sense.

Why is one commercial retail space a few doors down so much cheaper than a current space of the same size? Forcing them to move a few doors down creates lot of expense and lost business.

Landlords are out of control and don't seem to care they are driving others out of business as long as they get more money.

Alas, this is the legacy that 12 years of Bloomberg have left us with; Russian oligarchs now going broke with the Ruble down 50%, the Euro crashing to $1.15 on its way to $1 so even our beloved euro trash have to shop at Kmart now (cue the crocodile tears) and successful local businesses that struggle to survive.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that this was a NYC owned building. Would have been nice if Ess-a-Bagwl had bought it, no ?

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Now Ess-A-Bagel too?!

How many more stories like these will we have to read before the City Council suspends its obeisance to the real estate industry and passes the the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (says that if agreement between landlord and small biz on new lease can’t be reached, it goes to mediation. If that fails, arbitration. No tax dollars required). The bill was originally introduced by Councilmember Ruth Messinger in 1986, and the real estate industry has managed to keep successive versions of it bottled up in committees for almost 30 years. Enough's enough. Bloomberg and Quinn are gone. What's the excuse now?

Anonymous said...

Fucking DISGUSTING. This is one of the BIGGEST problems facing the city today, and it keeps being put on the back burner.

Gojira said...

If Dante were writing The Inferno today, he would reserve one circle of Hell strictly for the predatory scum who populate the landlord universe today. It would, by necessity, have to be the biggest of the nine.

Anon. 10:26, I'm with you on this one.

Anonymous said...

Beyond wrong. Bagel Row up First Ave. is my favorite part of town.......FOR SHAME.

Unknown said...

Noooooo!!!! I lived at the Hunter College dorms down there for several years and went there all the time. I haven't lived in NYC for 20 years and I whenever I have friends visit NYC I tell them they have to go to Ess-A-Bagel for the worlds best bagels. The article didn't mention when their lease was up (or did I miss it?). I'm going to NYC at the end of April, I hope they are still there so I can have one more chane of bagle nirvanah!

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand how blind you all are blaming an ex-mayor for the fact that real estate prices have increased dramatically because the perceived safety of investing in NY real estate and near zero interest rates attracts massive capital. Can we have a discussion without politics? What has Mayor Bill done? Is Bloomberg responsible for the 100% rise in prices in San Francisco too? How about London?

Note that no one says in this article that this fell apart over price. While this is truly terrible, I hope the plans are to move Essa Bagel further south. We could use it. I have been a loyal customer for three decades, but more so 15-30 years ago when I was much closer.

Anonymous said...

Best bagel in the world.

Anonymous said...


I'd have a bagel place than a bank branch, but it's a free country. If the owner of the building doesn't want to rent to them anymore, it's their business and their choice.

Why do you hate freedom?

Anonymous said...

NYC buildings are very expensive. Banks who provide loans want landlords to rent to banks/chains etc because they are seen as safer tenants. But it somehow is the Mayors fault. Here's a question- should the city enact policies that would cost it money? I don't think the mayor wants that. He wants to spend spend spend. He wants to raise taxes and get as much as he can out of the RE industry so he can spend even more on schools and social services and parks. Are you EV Grieve commenters down with paying even more taxes? If not then let him bleed the RE people and Wall St. You want him to spend other peoples money right? Well this is one way to get it. So much hypocrisy. Unreal.

savenyc-action said...

Don't GIVE UP!!! FIGHT!!! Write to your council person and tell them to pass INT0402-2014 The Small Business Jobs Survival Act! Get involved!! Join the FB Group "Save New York" #SaveNYC Tweet @dangarodnick and all the rest and tell them to DO SOMETHING!!!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the people who were warning us about Bloomberg and the real estate industry all along are being proven right. We have so many decades old and successfully run locally owned businesses being pushed out one after another in favor of national chains and businesses that can afford to take a big loss for the first half of their leases.

The fact that some people here got it right and predicted this would happen seems to really irk the same people who supported Bloomberg and his policies.

They say they are "free market" and "pro-business" but these policies destroy many businesses in favor of a few other businesses, and somehow we are supposed to be happy about this?

It seems to me the people who want to protect our local businesses are much more "pro-business" than the free marketeers who want a Wild West economy that crushes small businesses and leaves many of these storefronts empty for years. That benefits nobody, at least the greedy landlords could allow businesses to stay while they find a new tenant, which often takes many years.

Sorry but don't expect anyone around here to cheer for these free market policies that make New York less affordable for everyone except the slumlords and thugs who run the real estate business.

Crazy Eddie said...

Hey Anony 12.43 PM, did you have a grand time at the REBNY gala last night? I bet you did.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Davidovitch bagels in Essex Street Market is really good.

Anonymous said...

A list of our only future stores:

1) Bank
2) 711
3) CVS
4) High volume douche bar like 13th step which has high volume, low overhead...
5) Kidult food Eatery

WE ARE DOOMED

Anonymous said...

Um, how does that letter help them any? They are saying they were raising the rent and Ess-A-Bagel wouldn't have it, so: Bank of America. What they're basically saying is they were trying to get EAB up toward "fair" market value, but still remaining below. Sorry, just because it's somewhat under market, doesn't mean someone/a shop who has been here forever can afford what you do not deem a huge rent increase. Never have I typed this before, but: SMH.

Giovanni said...

That statement from the owner is some self-serving BS. The landlord says they really wanted Ess-A-Bagel to stay, so why are all 3 retail tenants leaving AT THE SAME TIME? Answer: because they want more money from new tenants including another damn bank!

Judging fom the comments on Town & Village and from people I know there, the tenants in Peter Cooper and Stuy Town who grew up with Ess-A-Bagel are pretty riled up about this. I doubt any new bagel place will have the loyalty or business that Ess-A-Bagel has now, and no one wants a new bank.

Maybe when they are renting these stores out the local community boards should require the landlord to appear to ask them why they are choosing so many banks and chains while pushing out stores the communities treasure? The new store owners have to appear, but the landlord that control the spaces get to hide behind lawyers and spokesmen. If they had to appear and talk to the community directly, and they never do, I bet we would get a different and better outcome for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Just what we need - another bank. I think it's about time someone should come up with an updated definition of "market-rate," e.g., "grab all the money you can at a particular time without regard for the history, culture, or relationship between a business owner (or resident) and his community" or "let anybody or business substitute for a store with its community as long as they can upswing the bottom line," or "common-out the neighborhood so that we can be like other neighborhoods with the same stores so that we can all go en masse to Starbucks in the morning, the bank in the afternoon, the drug store at various times, Dunkin' Doughnuts, McDonalds, etc. and get our bagels from the supermarket, heat them up in the microwave, and be citizens of the city who do the same things everyone else does." Yuc! I hope Ess-a-Bagel comes through this and survives. Try comparing an "everything" bagel with a former Lender's bagel. They weren't too bad, but there's no comparison. The staff is friendly, welcoming, and know how to run a business, and the slight increases in price that occur from time to time are worth it for a good bagel.

Cynthia Chaffee said...

Wake up everyone, get off your butts and fight to strengthen and protect the rent laws... that are due to expire in June. Commercial tenants, market rate tenants and rent regulated tenants all need protections. Fight against the vacancy decontrol and bring home rule back to NYC. These predatory landlords could not do this if the tenant protection laws were strengthened and enforced.

Anonymous said...

I want my dollars lightly toasted with a smear of cream cheese and jelly please.

BagelGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As good as the bagels are they're way overpriced! It's like 9 dollars for a bagel with tuna fish and tomato!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, talk about a non-denial denial . . . that statement by the East 21 Retail LLC spokesperson is technically true if they offered a lease that's $1 less than market and, doh, I'm sure Ess-A-Bagel _could_ have expanded. Sigh. If what they were saying was at all true, wouldn't they have said "We were concerned about continuity and the neighborhood and we offered a lease at X dollars less than market." or whatever. I'd say the spokesperson earned their keep in this case.

Alas.

Anonymous said...

If we passed a law that required landlords to live in the neighborhoods they invest in and divest, much as we'd solve a pr/behavorial problem by demanding police live in the neighborhoods, or the city, they police, we'd see a major change. Abuse is most flagrant when the abusers don't live where they work or prey.

Anonymous said...

If memory serves me correctly, the building where Ess-a-Bagel is housed was at one point a city owned property. I bet L&M bought it at a fire sale price to "rehab" it. Ess-a likely had a sweet deal on rent, no doubt, and the change of landlord and bump up to "below market rate" was still heart attack inducing. I guess it comes down to a business decision, and weather the owners want to continue the business with the greatly increased overhead. It may not pay for them.

I really hope they can continue baking the best bagels in NYC.

Ed Amame said...

What to do?

• We can complain online. But it won’t accomplish much.

• Customers can organize protests with signs. Enough people need to show up to get the attention of local local tv news. Embarrass L&M into who knows what.

• Call the mayor’s office. Call Dan Garodnick’s office. The city is allowing stories like this to happen all over town.

Anonymous said...

What does this have to do with the East Village?

bayou said...

With all due respect, as a native New York Jew, they are not the best bagels; too doughy. David's and TSB are far superior. For those that say ESS a Bagels are the best, there are holes in their theory.

Anonymous said...

You're correct, this used to be a city owned building. The Giuliani administration sold it in 1999 to BFC Partners, which proposed to preserve the 30 apartments as low income, using inclusionary zoning provisions that provided them with several million dollars in air rights in exchange for preserving the affordable housing. They sold the air rights elsewhere in Community Board 6. They split the building into a residential condo and a commercial condo. A non-profit housing company manages the low income residential units, and BFC/L&M controls the retail space, which they own debt free. It sucks that they've chosen to get top dollar for the space since they were already making a nice profit on it.

Anonymous said...

"It sucks that they've chosen to get top dollar since they were already making a nice profit" Where is the proof for this statement? And when did this become awful? I was born here in 1970 and I remember when this whole city was a giant sewer. Now it isn't and the real estate is valuable. How shocking. And to the other commenter- the city unions have new contracts and they are not required to live in NYC and haven't been since the 1960s. As far as making landlords live in the neighborhood- that's more EV Grieve pie in the sky fantasy. Soon the international folks will stop buying/investing here due to the collapse of oil and then we'll see how the city turns. Massive budget problems due to decreases in hotel tax dollars- raising of taxes to offset that - cuts in services- $3 subway fares thanks to the mayor not knowing how to deal with Albany. The city has used international dollars (especially in tourism) as a crutch for almost 20 years. When the current cycle ends where will the money come from? When a cop shoots a kid next summer and the riots start and the tourists and international investors flee who will step in? You? You'll be sitting in your rent stabilized apt wondering whose money can be used to pay for everything like you always do.

Anonymous said...

Well, it looks to me like a lot of ex-Ess Stuytown pats will be moving down to Avenue A for a Tompkins Park bagel -- who make one of the fattest, puffiest, delightful bagels you every had, especially the everything bagel, which should be overweight and excessively everythinged. (And I hope they keep them that way.) Sorry, Bayou, but your theory, if there is one, doesn't hold.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

10:54 AM Well gee, thanks for sharing your opinion about who makes the best bagels around, but although it's north of 14th, Ess-A-Bagel is as big a local loss as Sapporo East and DeRoberti's were. I hope that TSB is able to eventually become the kind of beloved neighborhood institution that Ess-A-Bagel has been for almost 40 years.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia Chaffee has the right point of view, what happened to EVCC? I know San-Fransisco was able to keep their neighborhoods chain free , we should find out how they accomplished that. And tbt I find Essabagel a little too far above my comfort zone. TSB, even with the lines on weekends for me.

Anonymous said...

Ok- here is a quote from an article in The San Fransisco Chronical re: proliferation of chains:
"But Supervisor Eric Mar, who has taken a lead on modifying existing formula-retail regulations, helped broker a compromise measure that the full board will vote on next week. He expects unanimous support.
"There is no shortage of chain stores in San Francisco. There are 1,250," Mar said. "I've been committed to giving our neighborhood residents a strong voice in their economic development of their neighborhood corridors and to leveling the playing field.""
It can be done with awareness!

Anonymous said...

The Institute for Local Self- Reliance has a really interesting site that addresses many points from these comments.
ilsr.org

Anonymous said...

EVCC is still supporting the ideas so many on this post have shared. And even if you are unable to donate money, they appreciate time donations. Time to walk the walk Grievers! Or just look forward to walking around with your grand kids saying "this branch was a bagel shop and this branch was a bakery."

Anonymous said...

San Francisco is 50 square miles ( roughly twice the size of Manhattan and has 1,250 chain stores. It is far from chain free. Stop perpetuating the myth that SF has no chains. They are trying to limit new chain stores in certain areas. Why is this not being done in NYC?

Anonymous said...


With all due respect to the armchair food critics, here's what Robert Sietsema, former food critic for the Village Voice and now Eater (and he's also Jewish as if that matters) said about the closing of Ess-A-Bagel:

"This is a real bummer because this is the place that defined bagels for me, and a favorite with generations of neighborhood residents."

Anonymous said...

10:21-what I said was not that SF was chain free, but that they were aware and taking steps to curtail the invasion of formula retail stores. (reading comprehension obviously lacking)The point was more that a community can have a voice if they get involved.

Anonymous said...

BFC Partners needs to be publicly shamed. This is the same landlord Donald Capoccia who has torn down community gardens, sits on the Battery Park Authorities Board and is now kicking out the sailing school, and recently tried to sue a coop board president for "complaining" with a "slapp" lawsuit for speaking up that the building in Harlem built by BFC Partners, L&M Management and Donald Capoccia was built like crap and has millions of dollars of construction defects. Then again, this also is the same developer who has given Cuomo $25,000 and secured his right out of college son with a job at Empire State Development, and seems to created his own Real Estate Institute at NYU. Does HPD or this developer give a hoot about small business in NYC? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

L&M is in the business of buying distressed buildings, kicking out the residents and small businesses for their own profit. I wouldn't say the bagel store had a sweet deal, it was an area not so desirable when they original started the biz. L&M probably were being speculators after witnessing the purchase of Stuytown, where the owner wanted to make the apts. into "luxury housing". Speculation by buying distressed building by the city and the city (HPD) is poorly managed on so many levels that they don't over see how they are managed and what they are doing to the retail space that affects small biz owners.

les native said...

That makes me very sad. I went to school as a boy and used to stop there all the time.