BY GABE HERMAN | Manhattan mainstay Ess-a-Bagel has expanded to a third location, with a new store near bustling Herald Square.
The new store, at 108 W. 32nd St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., celebrated its grand opening on May 20. It offers the same classic bagels, large and fluffy, from natural ingredients, hand-rolled and baked on site.
The big space features an extensive menu that includes more than 20 types of cream cheese, from vegetable to jalapeno, banana nut to “lite scallion.”
There are plenty of egg options, and sandwich varieties, such as fish, cheese, meat and salads. And there are side salads, soups, knishes and more.
Ess-a-Bagel was founded in 1976 and remains a family-run business. It was started by Florence and Gene Wilpon, and Florence’s brother Aaron Wenzelberg. The original location, at First Ave. and E. 21st St., often featured lines that went down the block.
In 1993, Florence expanded to a second location, at 831 Third Ave., between E. 50th and 51st Sts.
After Florence’s death in 2013, her sister Muriel and niece Melanie took the reins. In March 2015, the original First Ave. location closed, but the company opened a new store the following year nearby at 324 First Ave., at E. 19th St.
At the Herald Square grand opening, Melanie said she was “very excited” about the third spot for the business. She said there are no immediate plans for more stores, and as the business expands, the focus is on keeping the authenticity.
“It really was her baby,” she said of aunt Florence’s connection with the bagel business. “Made with lots of love, she would say.”
Ess-a-Bagel now ships nationally, and is also in Brookfield Place, near the World Trade Center, in the Amazon Go store. Catering also brings in good business, including breakfast catering for companies.
“Bagels are no longer just a New York thing,” Melanie said. “They’ve gone worldwide.”
But the local love continues, even as word has spread of the handmade bagels.
Melanie recalled a snowstorm in the city a couple of years ago, when they stayed open but had to close a little early. A man was upset about the early closing and said he had braved the storm to come just for their bagels. Melanie said people’s passion for the bagels can be a lot of pressure, but it’s a good problem for a business to have.
And Melanie is also proud of the charity work they do, including with children and to fight breast cancer.
Ess-a-Bagel’s new Herald Square location is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. More information can be found at ess-a-bagel32.com.