On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, an era will end abruptly tomorrow. H & H Bagels has quietly announced it will shutter its famous store on Broadway and 80th Street, leaving open only its Midtown manufacturing plant (which has a storefront, but it's not the same). Bagel stores come and go pretty often in Manhattan, so one closing might not be that big a deal, but this is one of those places that, when New Yorkers talk about it, you can hear the reverence. There's even a subculture to the store: Regulars never ask for a toasted bagel. Instead they say, "what's hot?" And they are rewarded with a warm-from-the-oven surprise.
The bagels from H & H are genuinely good. Among the best in the city. But much of the mystique comes from the fact that the shop, which has been around since 1972, has become something of a staple in pop culture. It's THE bagel store you reference when making a Manhattan-centric movie or television show. Here are some of its more famous cameos:
It makes a brief appearance in Manhattan Murder Mystery (look at Woody Allen's packages near the beginning of the trailer):
In the Seinfeld episode, The Strike, Kramer goes back to work at H & H after a 12-year strike.
Then there's the famous line from You've Got Mail, where Joe talks about the truck pumping flour into the ground outside H & H Bagels. "The air is absolutely amazing," he says (sorry, no video for this one):
There are plenty more examples. The store appeared in Sex and the City, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and Entourage. But there probably won't be many more. Even though New Yorkers will still be able to buy their bagels from one of the shops H & H delivers to, or else schlep all the way out to 12th Avenue to buy them from the factory, the legendary location on the Upper West Side is ready to fade into New York City lore.