Gabe Schiffer’s column on Collegetown Bagels is extraordinarily colorful and eloquent. Unfortunately, it misses the larger picture about this iconic, decades-old, family-run local business.
CTB has been around for nearly half a century, initially known in the 1970s as The Bagelry. Its expansion, unparalleled by any other business in Ithaca, has created a huge number of jobs in this community: At any given time, CTB employs hundreds of staff.
CTB sources much of the electricity they use from solar power, recycling and composting are daily rituals and they actively seek to source their ingredients from local suppliers. These are not facts supplied by any CTB-paid marketer: Many of us in the community have known of their efforts in these areas for a long time.
Due to the extremely high rent in Collegetown, there is hardly a single business that has survived for decades. CTB has. If there are others aside from Souvlaki House, I can’t think of them. Why? Its food is priced affordably, it serves its hungry, sometimes hurried, customers fast and its employees are clearly treated well enough to seem relatively cheerful virtually every time I’ve been there. Many businesses have customers willing to stand in line to be served. But none that I can think of, not only in Ithaca but even worldwide, have a nearly nonstop line of customers virtually from the minute they open to the minute they close. It’s a good thing the line moves fast.
Why do so many people line up at this place? Because, most important of all, its coffee is good, its sandwiches are great and so are the house-made appetizers, salads, cakes, baked goods, side dishes, beer and other culinary offerings found at its Meadow Street location — nearly all made in-house.
Personally, although I love nearly all CTB bagel sandwiches, I think nothing beats a well toasted, heavily buttered CTB poppy-seed bagel in the early morning.
Benjamin Kahn graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1991. He can be reached at [email protected].