Yesterday morning one of my neighbors knocked rather insistently on my door. I had already left the house, but my wife Vicky was home and involved in a rather important business conversation at the time. She finally opened the door, cordless phone in hand, mid-conversation, and our neighbor told us: H&H on 80th and Broadway was closing its doors for good at the end of that business day.
Other sources like the Wall Street Journal seem to be confirming our neighbor's reporting.
It's sad that H&H is closing, but not because its bagels were so good. They weren't, though try convincing anyone of that when they've walked out of the about-to-close storefront chewing on a not-very-chewy-but-still-warm bagel.
What's sad is what it's likely to be replaced by a national chain or a branch of a bank. I would love it if a local food purveyor opened in its stead. My neighborhood used to be filled with local food merchants who, if they didn't know your name, at least nodded when you walked in. I'm thinking of Babka, Royale Pastry Shop, Prime Meats, Harvey's Coffee Shop, Gitlitz's Deli, Grossinger's. i could go on and on with the list, but I think you get my point. These kinds of shops define and distinguish one neighborhood from another.
So where will I buy bagels if I don't feel like schlepping up to Absolute? Good question, with no easy answer. I won't be going to the other H&H even if it stays open, for the reason I outlined above. Zabar's bagels are pretty good (I think they make their own now, though they used to sell Columbia Hot Bagels, which is no more), but not stellar. Fairway's bagels can be good, but they are inconsistent (their minis are solid, though). I guess I'm going to just be eating more bialys, which are lighter and take to freezing better, anyway. And I will end up getting on my bike and making quick trips to Absolute for a dozen minis more frequently.