November 18, 2010

Syracuse's bagel tradition coming to an end

I had an opportunity to chat briefly with the owner of a downtown Syracuse deli a couple of weeks ago. His place, The Bagel Shop, is one of a kind and it’s been around forever. When I worked downtown, I’d stop in at least a couple days a week; now it’s more like once a month or so, when I’m working in our satellite office a block away from the deli. 

In the past couple of years, there have been frequent rumors about his either having already closed (not true) or being on the verge of closing…and, sadly, this appears to be true.  Reliable sources are indicating that The Bagel Shop is closing for good this Friday.  

In real estate, everyone knows that it’s all about location, location, location. In this case, my favorite lunch spot is in the wrong, wrong, wrong location, and it’s become impossible for it to stay open. Why? The problem is, they’re on Warren Street, which unfortunately is not in Armory Square, where all of our downtown development attention has been focused for many years. 

Sadly, my company leaving downtown and moving to the 'burbs was a major contributor to the emptiness of Warren Street, but it was not the only one, or even the first one. Before we made our move two years ago, other companies in the center city had already had staff reductions or had left downtown entirely. When we moved over 800 people out – still a decision I disagree with, even though our new leased space is very nice - we left a huge hole in the middle of the block and in the middle of the bottom lines of downtown business, many of whom struggled to survive after we left. Some didn’t even stick around long enough to struggle.  

The Bagel Shop (and its previous incarnation Lox, Stox and Bagels) was a mandatory stop for travelers. I remember years and years ago when I worked at the Syracuse Chamber, a consultant from Colorado Springs had to stop on her way to the airport and take home a dozen bialys every time she came to town, caring not a bit how others on the plane would react to the strong onion aroma. Originally from Long Island, I remember, she had not been able to find anything close to a real NYC bagel shop in Colorado, and was thrilled we had one right here in Syracuse. More recently, we’d see folks from our regional Blue offices doing the same, taking a dozen home. 

When The Bagel Shop closes, there will be only a handful of businesses left on Warren Street, not one of which will be able to give me my favorite, everything-toasted-jalapeno-cream-cheese-on-the-side. 

It just won't be the same anymore.

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