By all accounts, it looked like business as usual yesterday at Tompkins Square Bagels at 165 Avenue A between 10th Street and 11th Street. Customers and delivery people were coming and going through the open doors. The smell of fresh-baked bagels was drifting from inside.
However, behind the scenes, patrons may not know what owner Christopher Pugliese and his team needed to do to open.
On Wednesday, a carbon monoxide sensor went off related to the storefront's hot water heater.
"We discovered a hole in the flue that brings in replacement air. Because of the hole, replacement air wasn’t getting into the basement, thus the high carbon monoxide reading," Pugliese said.
However, despite identifying the problem and quickly having it repaired, ConEd shut off the gas to the business. And Pugliese is angry.
"They could've disconnected the water heater. I get why they turned off the gas. It's easier ... I get that life was at risk," said Pugliese, stressing that safety is always a top concern. "But once it's determined that it wasn't a gas issue and the flue had been fixed, I shouldn't have to file permits and jump through hoops, pay fees, and be put on a ConEd waitlist. That is absolute bullshit."
For now, he's estimating a four- to eight-week period to get gas service to the bagel shop restored, a process that includes hiring a plumber, filing permits with the Department of Buildings, waiting for the city to inspect the space — all before ConEd even steps in, all for an issue that has already been addressed.
On Wednesday, Pugliese figured he'd need to close for the interim. "If we didn’t have the Second Avenue store this could've been a death blow," he said.
By yesterday morning, however, Tompkins Square Bagels, which first opened in December 2011, was up and running on Avenue A.
"Over the past 24 hours I bought three electric grills and had three 220-volt power lines installed so I could cook," he said. "They tried their best to shut me down but I am smarter and work harder than they could ever imagine."
Total cost of the interim cooking system: $7,000
"I am open in spite of the city," said Pugliese, who noted that his shops helped feed the homeless and essential front-line workers during the pandemic's worst days in the spring. "I still did my part to help this city ... and we are all in this together? I just don't see the support on the other end."