A Rockaway culinary staple, Surfside Bagels
, was hit hard by Sandy. The firefighter duo, turned bagel shop owners, never thought they would be in such a situation! Still in line for a small business loan, yet hopeful still about the strength of the Rockaway community, Tim and Scott were approached by FrontStreet Facility Solutions
with an unbelievable solution. The moldy walls, damaged machinery and feelings of defeat are now history and we await their grand opening…and look forward to other businesses following suit. Here is their story (as told by Tim)…
What prompted two NYC firefighters to open a bagel store?
We both are firefighters and work together in the same fire house. We’ve been friends for several years and have always had a passion to open up a business together. As lifelong Rockaway residents, we found out about an opportunity for the location we’re in now and we jumped on it. We decided that the area needed a breakfast place. We opened April, 21st 2008.
What’s so special about your bagels?
All of our bagels are hand rolled and made with a secret recipe. Over a 24 hour process, we wait for the yeast to activate and the bagels to rise, then we boil them in a kettle. The bagels are placed onto boards in the oven and then at the perfect time we finish cooking the bagels on a special stone in the oven.
What is a customer favorite?
Well we have these delicious cheese bagels…we have a special cheese blend, I can’t tell you what it is, mixed with some jalapeño pepper, broccoli or spinach. There is only one person (other than the two of us) who knows the recipe, and that’s the baker, he’s been with us since day one.
Where were you during the storm?
I was on call. It was a disaster. My company was sent into Howard Beach. It was Zone B, so they were never told to evacuate. Howard Beach went under 4-6 ft of water like Rockaway. We were operating on foot chest hight in water. I know myself and two other guys got lacerations in the legs going through the water because you couldn’t see. No one was able to get stitches that night because there was too much work to do, but firemen are very resilient and we know we have work to do.
What shape was the store in after Sandy?
We had probably 4.5-5 feet of water from the storm surge in the store. It was very disheartening, but we were lucky to have a light at then end of the tunnel and that was FrontStreet. They decided they would choose one business in Rockaway and they would handle the demo and rebuild and they would pick up the cost. When they first contacted us we were skeptical because we thought it was too good to be true. But then we figured everything in the store was destroyed so we really had nothing to loose. Without FrontStreet, the store would still be closed – we are still waiting on disaster loans from the small business administration, which we applied for right after Sandy hit.
The Department of Sanitation down in Rockaway are miracle workers, picking up garbage and getting the sand cleaned and back on the beach.Sanitation came in day after day and you could see this tremendous improvement. The work was phenomenal, it inspired everyone. We thought, “if sanitation can clean up like this, we can rebuild.” The sanitation guys are definitely going to get free bagels and coffee!
Will Rockaway have a full recovery?
I’m sure it will. It has always been a very resilient community here and I’m sure Rockaway is going to come back stronger. There’s an old saying: “Once you get the sand in your shoes, you can never get it all out.” Once you live in Rockaway and get a good feel for the beach you’ll never want to go anywhere else. That’s the truth, honest to god. A hurricane, a tidal surge, they will bruise you, but they’re not going to change the community.
When will you reopen?
We are hoping to open by the end of the month, but nothing moves as fast as you’d like. If we don’t get opened by the end of January, maybe the start of February. We have employees that support their families with this job, so we hope to open as soon as we can.
Stay tuned for the opening event on NYC Urchin Facebook…
Watch the Surfside Bagels story on NBC
Pay them a visit: 95-11 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.