GRAVESEND (WPIX)—Calls from as far away as North Carolina and New Mexico have been pouring in, since the news broke: Coney Island Bialys and Bagels has been a hallmark of Brooklyn since 1920, but if business doesn't pick up soon, the bakery may close before October Jewish holidays.
The business opened up its Coney Island Avenue shop in Gravesend in 1954, but was started by Morris Rozenwig in 1920 with a special recipe he brought back from Bialystok, Poland.
Rozenwig's great-grandson Steve Ross now runs the business with two employees, but says new consumer behaviors and the changing face of the neighborhood have made it hard to keep the business running.
Ross first started working at his family business when he was just 8-years-old, and grew from sweeping floors to running the register to making bagels and bialys.
Ross says people used to stop by on a Saturday night, pick up bagels, and serve them for family gatherings on Sundays; but because everyone's on the go and Jewish people who used to populate the neighborhood have moved out, there's declining demand for this home-made treat.
"My father used to work nights, weekends, holidays," said Ross. "In the 1980s, he put four kids through college and we became a doctor, businessman and chef."
Ross, himself, is a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey, and will rely on teaching life support classes for income if the store has to close. He says the store is even recognized in the Smithsonian Museum.
At Coney Island Bialys and Bagels, a half-dozen bialys or bagels runs $5.70 and they come in a variety of flavors, including onion, olive, poppyseed and cinnamon raisin.
They're located at 2359 Coney Island Avenue in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, and orders can be placed online for shipment in the U.S. by going to: www.bialys.com.