Eulogy for a fallen bagel shop

A victim of capitalism and bagel man fratricide

Eulogy for a fallen bagel shop
Photo: Tracy Marotta

Dearly beloved, we gather here today to say our goodbyes to Court Street Bagels, another victim of New York City landlords.

You probably saw the news of Court Street Bagels’ demise spread across Facebook, Nextdoor, Reddit, and TikTok. You may have also seen that, like Jesus, Court Street Bagels rose from the dead—though it only took Court Street about twelve hours to once again serve bagels among the living.

But we all know that when it returned, something was not quite right. Owner Peter Eulo—well-known for his distinctive New York accent, paradoxically nasally and booming all at once—was nowhere to be found. The employees were the same, the equipment was the same, the name on the sign out front was the same. But this was not the Court Street Bagels that we knew and loved.

In the confusion, rumors spread. Some guy named Craig claimed to be the owner on Facebook and said he was shutting down the shop due to rising crime and moving to Hoboken. A Reddit post from “a family member of the business” said they were “personally committed to keeping our doors open.” Meanwhile, Peter claimed to have no better insight into Court Street Bagels’ return than any of us.

@EuloPeter on Twitter: "Hi, Carrie.  This is Peter Eulo, the former owner of Court Street Bagels.  My lease expired.  Last night was the last night Court street bagels was open.  I have the landlord the keys and came home.  As for the events of today, I have no idea."

Slowly, elements of the truth began to emerge. After buying the building in 2020, new landlords jacked up the rent.¹ Peter fell behind on payments and agreed to vacate the space at the end of January in exchange for rent forgiveness. Behind the scenes, the landlord rented out the space to a new owner: Adam Alsoora, a partner at nearby competitor Smith Street Bagels.

Now, friends will know that I have no bias in my heart against Smith Street Bagels. The vegan breakfast sandwiches are appreciated, and while I’ve never considered it a well-run bagel shop, what bagel place among us can truly stand up as the pinnacle of operational efficiency?

But if the allegations are true and Mr. Alsoora conspired with the landlords to steal Court Street Bagels out from under Peter’s nose, it is a crime that is truly beyond the pale. For a bagel man to betray his fellow bagel man is an act of blatant fratricide so heinous as to be unforgivable. In refuting the Facebook rumor, Peter posted that there’d been no robberies. Little did he know that he’d suffered the ultimate robbery at the hands of a brother-in-bagels.

Let us not dwell too much on the details of Court Street Bagels’ demise and instead join together to remember the shop’s twenty years of serving the Cobble Hill community.

Court Street Bagels came to me as a beacon of light in a dark moment. I moved to Brooklyn Heights from Park Slope in 2018. In Park Slope, I lived across the street from the original Bagel Pub. Despite the neighborhood’s many good qualities, the bagel situation in Brooklyn Heights was dire. Montague Street Bagels had horrible customer service. La Bagel Delight was passable, but uninspiring. The Ess-A-Bagel down in DUMBO was a sad, overpriced imitation of the Manhattan institution.²

And so, when I wanted bagels, I would walk twenty minutes to Court Street Bagels in Cobble Hill. It was not the best bagel shop in the world—they got our order wrong a few too many times, and once gave us a sun-dried tomato spread so rancid that mere mention of the shop would make me retch at the memory—but it was a good bagel shop. The bagels were tasty, the portions generous, and the prices reasonable. What more could you ask for from your local bagel place?

It was an oasis during COVID—I’d grab bagels and walk over to nearby Cobble Hill Park, where I could dine outside with friends. For a while, I was getting paid cash to be a participant in a COVID vaccine trial, and I’m pretty sure every single dollar I earned went straight to Court Street Bagels.

When I heard the news that Court Street Bagels was closing, I selfishly thought of myself. Was my moving to England the reason for the shop’s demise? Was Peter only short on rent by my $10 weekly bagel order? Of course, the truth was far more sinister, and I have no one really to blame except the landlords who seek profit above community.

“I loved Cobble Hill and I will miss it dearly,” Peter posted on Twitter. I do not doubt that Cobble Hill will miss him back.

  1. NYC Bagel Tours named the landlords as Conway Capital, but Traded reported the building as being purchased by Davean Holdings in 2020. The two companies have worked together to purchase buildings in the past, so it’s possible that’s what has occurred here.

  2. The situation is so bad that I emailed my local councilman, Lincoln Restler, begging him to make inroads with the bagel man community and bring a decent bagel shop to Montague Street. I only got an auto-reply, but I hope the message reached his Head of Bagel Affairs.