After moving to College Park two years ago, Carolina Reese and her family developed a routine of eating bagels from Bagel Place every morning for breakfast. Reese’s family would buy a couple dozen every week-and-a-half and freeze them to eat later.
Bagel Place announced Friday that it would have to close immediately due to leasing disputes — leaving Reese’s family “really upset” and looking to find a new favorite breakfast spot.
“You could tell they took pride and care in it,” Reese said.
For the past few days, many University of Maryland students and local residents have been reeling with the realization that Bagel Place would no longer be operating after nearly 40 years of business. And while some community members are holding out hope there could be a last-minute way to save the business, the Bagel Place owners say chances are very slim.
In a letter to customers on Friday, Bagel Place owners Bobby and Debbie Karanovich said that it is in their best interest to shut down immediately as a result of unsuccessful lease negotiations with their landlord, Curtis Property Management.
“We are extremely sad that nothing more can be done, and we have tried,” they wrote.
The Karanoviches added their only option would be to relocate to another space in College Park, requiring “a new build out and uncertainty of survival.” The owners unsuccessfully attempted to find new owners to stay in the same location on Route 1 after their landlord denied two prospective buyers.
Michael Myers, the director of property management for Curtis Property Management Corporation, wrote in a statement the real estate company “exhausted every means possible to try and keep this tenant but unfortunately they would not sign a lease.”
“The Bagel Place is a beloved tenant at College Park Center and has been [a] member of the College Park Community for over 35 years.” Myers wrote. “Sadly, The Bagel Place decided not to renew their lease and are closing their business. We wish the owners of the Bagel Place success with their future endeavors.”
One month remains in the owners’ lease, so community members are hoping something can be arranged to keep Bagel Place running. University Park resident Emilie Dworkin started a Change.org petition on Saturday to “keep Bagel Place in its rightful home.” As of 6 p.m. Monday, there were more than 3,900 signatures.
“Bagel Place is one of few small businesses that remain in College Park as high rent and development have made it challenging for small businesses to survive, leaving this community with an influx of high rise apartment buildings and chain restaurants that remove the charm this community wants to retain,” Dworkin wrote.
Community members have rallied to help Bagel Place before.
When the shop was struggling at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a GoFundMe campaign for Bagel Place raised more than $46,000.
“To see them survive the pandemic when so many businesses haven’t, only for them to close because of this is really sad,” Reese said.
Physics graduate student Yonatan Gazit used to go to the bagel shop for lunch two to four times a week.
“I understand a lot of businesses have gone out of business with COVID but the Bagel Place never really seemed like a store that was struggling to get customers,” he said.
Still, Gazit said he is happy to see the community outpouring support and hopes that “this energy [is used] to do something good for the Bagel Place.”
Christy Razzano is a graduate of this university and a College Park resident of more than 20 years. She said she could never have imagined that Bagel Place would one day be closed.
After moving to College Park, Razzano’s nieces and nephews would stay with her on the weekends and frequent Bagel Place.
“It’s been an intergenerational experience,” Razzano said.
When Razzano found out about Bagel Place closing, her initial reaction was “not another one.” College Park’s business landscape has seen many changes over the past several years, with several small businesses — such as Ratsie’s and Food Factory — closing, and some places, such as Marathon Deli, relocating along Route 1.
“It’s not just a business,” Razzano said. “People have an emotional attachment to it.”