Kossar's Bialys has a new pair of owners with plans for growth.
Kossar’s Bialys, known to many as a Lower East Side landmark, is under new ownership.
After approximately 15 years of owning the 77-year-old kosher bakery, husband and wife owners Juda and Debra Engelmayer sold the bakery Thursday night to Marc Halprin and Evan Giniger, food industry professionals.
“The right opportunity came along, and they’re people who are really into the food business and can make the brand something bigger,” Juda Engelmayer said. “They want to nationalize bialys. They want to make it as exciting as a bagel.”
Kossar’s Bialys, located at 367 Grand Street, sells kosher, hand-made bagels, bulkas, sesame sticks, pletzels and of course, bialys, which are circular baked breads with a defined indentation in the center filled with fresh onions. Bialys originated in Poland and are typical of eastern European Jewish cuisine.
The bakery is known for its old-world charm, reminding customers of the Jewish roots of the Lower East Side.
On Yelp, where it has a 4-star rating among 118 reviews, customers say it’s a place unchanged by time.
One Yelp review posted by MichelleW in April gave Kossar’s four stars and said she’d been coming to Kossar’s since she was a little girl.
“The fact that they're still absolutely delicious and still under $1, is kind of amazing for this day and age,” she wrote.
The new owners, Halprin and Giniger, both Jewish, signed a 15 year lease to Kossar’s Bialys on August 15th.
Both men come with professional experience in the food industry. Halprin owned a food distribution company that specialized in bagels and bialys, and Giniger has owned and operated a retail branding company in New York City for the past 20 years. Giniger was also the US licensor for an ice cream and chocolate company that he has since sold.
Halprin and Giniger are the third owners of Kossar’s Bialys since it opened in 1936. The Engelmayers bought it from the original Kossar family in 1998.
The purchase price was not disclosed, nor were concrete plans for the future of Kossar’s.
“We have a lot of exciting plans in the works, and will be unveiling those in the near future,” Halprin and Giniger said in a press release on Friday.
Kossar’s Bialys has a reputation for preserving the old-world Jewish roots of the Lower East Side.
In her book, The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World, published in 2000, Mimi Sheraton tells the history of bialys through a personal journey that traces the baked good from Kossar’s to a village in Poland. She writes in the book that Kossar's is one of her favorite places in the world to purchase bialys. She even features Kossar’s bialy recipe in her book.
Fortunately for Sheraton and other customers of Kossar’s, the recipes and food quality aren’t at risk of changing.
“Nothing changes. Same kosher certification. Same recipe. Same people preparing the food,” Giniger said, “All we want to do is preserve the traditions and carry them on and make it better.”