No more Gertel’s.

Courtney found this on the NY Times web site.

No More Babka? There Goes the Neighborhood

By Joseph Berger

“Opened in 1914, Gertel’s, at 53 Hester Street near Essex Street, closed on June 22. A few days earlier, a sign had been posted, warning customers and passers-by of what some consider a culinary disaster. This writer’s father, who during his retirement worked part-time on the Lower East Side as a salesman in a dry goods store, J. S. Hosiery, would bring home challahs and cakes from Gertel’s, and they were always eagerly welcomed by his wife, grown children and their families. Gertel’s hung on even as its neighbors, like a store that sold dried fruit out of burlap bags, shut their doors. Down the street is a stylish restaurant named Brown Cafe (and an attached private dining area, the Orange Épicerie). On the tenement blocks nearby live Web designers, fashion photographers, makeup artists, and even some lawyers and stockbrokers who find this gritty, though gussied-up neighborhood to their liking. Some of them are grandchildren and great-grandchildren of striving sewing machine operators and hatmakers who fled the railroad flats with their airshafts and bathtubs in the kitchen for the fancy precincts of, yes, the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Reports on various Web sites say that Gertel’s is being replaced by a condo building and that a wholesale operation may continue. Gertel’s last babka was sold to a congregant at a Westchester synagogue, who gave the cake to her rabbi, Lester Bronstein.”


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