No babka for you. At least not if you're one of Gertels 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 wont name names or give numbers) came in with a higher offer, Stern put him in touch with the original buyer. Its not the end of the road, though: Gertels wholesale division is moving to a kitchen on Steuben Street in Williamsburg (theyre keeping the 212 number). Stern says that phase two will be to bring the Gertels brand into the gourmet world, with a new line of French and Italian pastries. Once that gets going, the next step is Gertels Caf, but he wont say where. Though Stern does feel a twinge of sadness that the neighborhood is changing, hes 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?