Coney Island Bialys and Bagels is Brooklyn’s oldest bagel place and it is closing after 91 years of operation. We hear that in the summer of 1922—two years after it opened—Ernest Hemingway, Nick Carraway, Ezra Pound, Man Ray, Gertrude Stein, and Babe Ruth would drive their Model-T’s over to Coney Island Bialys and Bagels, fueling their planet-sized brains before collectively writing a very long short story called Ulysses that a lot of people said they read but probably didn’t.
Founded in 1920 by Polish immigrant Morris Rosenzweig, the shop’s first location was in East New York before relocating to its current spot on Coney Island Avenue in Gravesend. Rosenzweig came from Bialystok, the bialy’s namesake, and his grandson Steven Ross still runs the business.
Unfortunately, according to Ross, many longtime customers have moved away and a surging Asian, Russian, and Middle Eastern population has less of a hankering for old-fashioned bagels and bialys. Business has become so bad that Ross doesn’t think he’ll be able to keep the shop open through the Jewish holidays as originally planned.
“A bagel is a bagel is a bagel is a bialy. Oh, wait, no, that’s not right, hold on,” said Gertrude Stein’s ghost.