Kossar’s Bialys, the 78-year-old Lower East Side bakery specializing in the Eastern European indented, onion-laden, crispy bread that should never be sliced, is about to change hands. New owners Marc Halprin and Evan Giniger, both veterans of the food industry with a deep appreciation for the value of branding, are expected to close the deal on Thursday, August 15. The Seward Park Cooperative Board of Directors has approved the sale, which should finalize tomorrow.
Current owner Juda Engelmayer said that ever since he’s owned the store, located at 367 Grand Street, which he and partner Danny Cohen purchased from the Kossar family in 1998 for under $1 million, they’ve gotten offers to take the dusty business off their hands.
“It was important to turn it over to someone who would grow the brand,” says Engelmayer, a corporate publicist. His wife Debbie, who ran the day-to-day business, refused to let him sell it until the right person came along, he said.
Both Giniger and Halprin have been in the food business as entrepreneurs. Learning the ropes at the flour-filled bakery earlier this evening, Giniger, a well-dressed gentleman, said he previously owned the American arm of Australian Home Made Ice Cream. Halprin, a 30-something guy in Bermuda shorts and a baseball-style cap, said he owned an independent distribution company that specialized in bagels and baked goods, and describes himself on LinkedIn as a strategist and “emerging trend spotter.”
As Debbie Engelmayer waved goodbye to the soon-to-be owners, both Giniger and Halprin, who didn’t yet have a speck of bialy dust in their hair or on their hands, were clearly happy that the yeasty deal was about to be official.
“We are excited to be taking the reins of this iconic and treasured brand,” said Halprin. “Our goal is to honor the past while making some improvements where needed.”
While neither would say what those improvements will be, odds are that the changes will attract even more tourists to the Lower East Side institution.
“These guys are good guys,” gushed Juda Engelmayer earlier in the day during a phone interview. “They even said they would honor the legacy of giving my niece, who still lives in the neighborhood, free bialys.”