Kossar's Bialys located at 367 Grand Street between Essex and Norfolk Streets has been in business since 1936. The bakery is famous for their freshly baked bialys, which are chewy, flat, round rolls with a slightly depressed center containing onions. Kossar’s Bialys was founded by Morris Kossar, who emigrated from Bialystok, the second largest city in Poland in 1905. For our book, STORE FRONT- The Disappearing Face of New York, we interviewed the third owner of Kossar's, Deborah Engelmayer, who took over the business with her husband in 1998. She told us, "What makes a bialy different than a bagel is, first of all, the ingredients are different. There are much less ingredients in a bialy. They don’t have sugar and they don’t have malt and they are flat rather than puffed up because they actually have more yeast than a bagel. Bialys are also very temperamental. You really have to baby them because all they are made from is flour, water, yeast, and salt. A true bialy has to be prepared completely differently than a bagel and made only in large batches, which is why we are so special and so famous. We make both bialys and bagels here and actually have two separate bakeries in this store. On the ground floor is the bialy bakery and downstairs we have a full separate bagel bakery with a separate mixer and separate ovens. Most places don’t sell as many bialys as bagels but we make four times the amount of bialys than we do bagels daily and that is why we are able to make a better quality and consistent product. On a typical day, we sell about 250 dozen bialys and about 40 dozen bagels. The name of our shop is Kossar’s Bialys. We make bagels, but we are known for our bialys. We usually start baking at 4 or 4:30 A.M. every morning. Every day for our morning bialy baking, we use about 400 pounds of high-gluten flour, about 28 gallons of water, 4 pounds of salt and 6 pounds of yeast."
The Engelmayer's sold the business in 2013 to Evan Giniger and David Zablocki, who just recently renovated the entire storefront, rebranded the business, and expanded the offerings to include other varieties of specialty bialys including the controversial whole-wheat bialy and sun-dried tomato flavor. They are also selling homemade cream cheeses and a new line of breakfast sandwiches and pizza bagels.