Ralph Miele of Deer Park fell on tough times after losing his manager job at Bagel Buzz in West Islip, where he worked for 14 years, due to the COVID pandemic.
Now he’s getting back in the bagel game.
Thanks to his old buddy Sal Gervasi, co-owner of the Bean Coffeehouse chain, his long-held dream of owning his own shop came.
He’s now the owner of his very own bagel place, Harry’s Bagels in East Islip.
“Not to sound dramatic, but I think it was what I was born to do,” Miele said. “I am grateful to Sal, without whom I would not have this opportunity — he’s one of the best people I’ve ever met.”
Gervasi and Miele, now partners, became friends when the Bean owner started ordering bagels from Bagel Buzz for his coffeehouse locations.
“I started delivering for him and we started talking, and over time we became friendly and we discussed him wanting to get into the bagel business,” he said. “I always wanted some kind of eatery, whether it be a small café or a coffeehouse like Sal’s, but with a kitchen.”
Gervasi told him he would help him with financing the place if Miele found a location.
“He’s 60 years old, where is he going to get a job? And he’s got a family,” Gervasi said. “He’s a very hard-worker, he’s a good man, so we put everything together and now he has Harry’s.”
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At the beginning of the pandemic, a storefront opened up at 286 East Main St. in the Heckscher Shopping Center, the partners jumped on it, and Harry’s Bagels debuted on Dec. 8.
Originally, the bagel shop was named Murray’s Bagels, which is Miele’s middle name, but they had to change it because Murray’s Bagels in Greenwich Village had trademarked it.
So with that, the pair settled on the name Harry’s Bagels instead.
They describe it as a classic, Brooklyn-esque name people would recognize.
Besides fresh, bagels made in-house, Harry’s Bagels also sells baked goods from Sal and Jerry’s Bakery, formerly based in Brooklyn and now operating out of West Babylon. These goodies include cookies, loaf cakes, marble loaves, and chocolate-rainbow layer cake.
Harry’s Bagels has a full breakfast menu as well, offering omelets, french toast, pancakes, and egg sandwiches.
Although not formally affiliated with the Bean coffeehouse chain, Harry’s Bagels does sell Babylon Bean coffee.
Harry’s will soon be offering delivery services as well.
Miele tells us he’s already heard from customers that think Harry’s Bagels has “the best bagel in town.”
“The store, in general, is a small store, but if you put out the right service and the right product, I don’t think it matters,” he said. “The community is very receptive to a fresh-rolled bagel, very few are left in the area that make bagels from scratch, and it makes a big difference.”
Harry’s Bagels is open seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. The owners expect to expand on those hours in the future. (Courtesy photo.)