Sunday, April 22, 2012

There Used To Be A Bakery Here: Gertels

A video I put together back in 2007, just prior to Gertels' closing. It was on 53 Hester Street. Kadouri Import was at 51 Hester and a tile factory was at 55. Many of the images came from this nytimes article :
An excerpt:
No More Babka? There Goes the Neighborhood By JOSEPH BERGER
 Gertel’s, the legendary bakery on Hester Street on the Lower East Side known for its Jewish treats like rugelach, babka and marble cake, has closed its doors. The closing is one more change in a string of changes on the historic Lower East Side, where hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Russia, Poland, Romania and Italy established their foothold in America and set up hundreds of dry goods and food shops that until recent years gave the area a characteristic pungency. But those shops are being replaced by hip boutiques and voguish restaurants, and only a few survivors, like the Russ & Daughters appetizing store and Katz’s Delicatessen, are left. Opened in 1914, Gertel’s, at 53 Hester Street near Essex Street, closed on June 22. A few days earlier, a sign had been posted, warning customers and passers-by of what some consider a culinary disaster. This writer’s father, who during his retirement worked part-time on the Lower East Side as a salesman in a dry goods store, J. S. Hosiery, would bring home challahs and cakes from Gertel’s, and they were always eagerly welcomed by his wife, grown children and their families. Gertel’s hung on even as its neighbors, like a store that sold dried fruit out of burlap bags, shut their doors. ....... On the tenement blocks nearby live Web designers, fashion photographers, makeup artists, and even some lawyers and stockbrokers who find this gritty, though gussied-up neighborhood to their liking. Some of them are grandchildren and great-grandchildren of striving sewing machine operators and hatmakers who fled the railroad flats with their airshafts and bathtubs in the kitchen for the fancy precincts of, yes, the Bronx and Brooklyn......
 Another story about the closing from lost new york city
ny curbed has links to several stories about what replaced Gertels.
Gertels still lives as a wholesale bakery and has merged with the Delancey Brand (so-so)
Quite by chance, I found them in Harlem, while wandering the air-conditioned aisles at Fairway. They wore the Delancey brand, and I almost didn't notice the Gertel's name, printed in much smaller type. (Via email, a representative for the food market stated that Gertel's "joined forces" with Delancey Bakery, a longtime Fairway supplier, less than a year ago.)
Fairway also carried Gertel's-baked, Delancey-branded sugar bowties, seven-layer cake, marble cake, cinnamon and chocolate swirls, cinnamon babka, Russian coffee cake, mini black-and-whites, and a hamentashen assortment, but with little hesitation I gravitated toward the chocolate rugelach.
I must confess as much as I miss the great food of the lower east side I was never a big fan of Gertels.
I much preferred Savoia's on Catherine Street.

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