Just because we saw it coming, doesn’t make us less sad.Photo: Everett Bogue
No babka for you. At least not if you’re one of Gertel’s retail customers. As of this Friday at 2 p.m., the last of the flaky rugalach and spongy babka will be sold from the beloved Hester Street location. The Lower East Side bakery, in operation since 1914, will shutter its doors, to make way for, yep, another condo in the hood.
Building and bakery owner Abe Stern said after fielding offers for two years for the prime space, a half-block from the F train, he finally went to contract in late 2006. But the parade of interested builders kept coming. When one in particular (Stern won’t name names or give numbers) came in with a higher offer, Stern put him in touch with the original buyer. It’s not the end of the road, though: Gertel’s wholesale division is moving to a kitchen on Steuben Street in Williamsburg (they’re keeping the 212 number). Stern says that phase two will be to bring the Gertel’s brand into the gourmet world, with a new line of French and Italian pastries. Once that gets going, the next step is Gertel’s Café, but he won’t say where. Though Stern does feel a twinge of sadness that the neighborhood is changing, he’s quick to give credit where credit is due. “I bought the building in 1998. It was the best thing Hashem did for me.” —Susan Avery
Earlier: Impending Jewish-Bakery Apocalypse?