There is a big hole in the Buffalo bagel market.
Manhattan Bagel closed its three local stores – in Snyder, Orchard Park and Tonawanda – late last week. And that is leaving customers on the hunt for quality doughnut-shaped rolls.
But another franchise, Bagel Jay’s, may be taking over one of the closed stores.
“We loved it there. I’m upset and sad,” said Kaleigh Tatar of Orchard Park on Saturday morning as she waited for her appointment at Campbell Hunter Salon next to the recently closed Manhattan Bagel shop on North Buffalo Road.
She, her husband and two daughters had planned to ride their bicycles to the restaurant to get breakfast before her salon appointment. But her husband noticed Friday that the store had closed.
“They have the best banana nut muffins in the world. I’m just sad,” Tatar said.
At SASS Salon and Spa on the other side of the former Manhattan Bagel restaurant, Carmella Savarino of Orchard Park wondered where her three children will go to find their favorite breakfast sandwiches and lunches.
“My children love it,” said Savarino, describing herself as a regular Manhattan Bagel customer who occasionally would get a dozen bagels there.
“The lines were long,” she said. ”I didn’t get the sense they were struggling. We were just in there days ago and there was no sort of (bad) vibe. The workers seemed happy.”
MaryPat Hunter, owner of the Campbell Hunter Salon, stood looking at the closed bagel restaurant.
“We’re hoping Bagel Jay’s will come back,” Hunter said.
That might be a possibility. Buffalo-based Bagel Jay’s does plan to open a new location in at least one of the former Manhattan Bagel shops, in Snyder.
Brown paper covers the windows at that store, at 4498 Main St., but a red-and-white sign announces a Bagel Jay’s restaurant will open at that location soon.
Jay Gershberg, owner of Bagel Jay’s, could not be reached Friday or Saturday despite repeated phone calls.
But Bagel Jay’s appears to be coming full circle.
Gershberg once owned Bagel Bros. with his brother Bob, but they sold their 23-store Bagel Bros. chain to Manhattan Bagel in 1990.
It is not clear how the arrangement bore out or whether Bagel Jay’s will set up shop in the two other shuttered Manhattan Bagel shops, one at 3494 Delaware Ave. in the Town of Tonawanda and the other at 4110 North Buffalo Road in Orchard Park.
Each restaurant has brown paper over its windows and signs on their doors saying the stores are permanently closed. The phones at each location ring with no answer or voicemail system.
Manhattan Bagel’s corporate offices did not respond to requests for comment.
The closing surprised many customers.
Lisa Walczak was at Manhattan Bagel’s Orchard Park store Tuesday morning to get coffee and a muffin.
But when she left work as a receptionist at SASS Salon that afternoon, the bagel store had closed.
“It was weird,” she said. “I liked Manhattan Bagel.”
In 2004, there were eight Manhattan Bagel locations in Western New York. It got its toehold in the Western New York market in 1990, after buying the Bagel Bros. locations.
Manhattan Bagel went bankrupt in 1998, and it was bought by Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, which still owns the company. The restaurant group also owns Einstein Bros. Bagels.
After selling the privately owned Bagel Bros. chain, Jay Gershberg started Bagel Jay’s. Bagel Jay’s has locations at 2130 Delaware Ave. in the Marshall’s Plaza and at 100A Plaza Drive in Williamsville, in the Dash’s Plaza.
Bagel Jay’s Marshall’s Plaza location is the site of the original Bagel Bros.
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