It takes a family to make a bagel — and to run a bagel mini empire.
“Izzy was the bagel maven,” Paul Wayne, a partner in Goldberg’s Famous Bagels in East Hampton and Montauk, said of his grandfather, Izzy Goldberg, who started the family in the bagel business in the years after World War II.
As he talked on Sept. 16, he cut a brisket into paper-thin slices. Rosh Hashana would begin at sunset, and the demand for brisket, corned beef, and pastrami was strong. As was the call for challah bread, which the store continued to make throughout the day.
Mr. Goldberg had four sons, Artie, Jerry, Alfred, and Marty, all of whom went into the family business, starting at a shop on Webster Avenue in the Bronx, then at shops in Brooklyn and Manhattan, before the family took their businesses to New Jersey.
Outside of the five boroughs, “there was a lack of bagels in the late 1960s,” said Mr. Wayne, whose father, Marty, changed his last name to Wayne, after his hero John Wayne, during a brief pursuit of a theatrical career.
It was Mr. Wayne’s cousin Mark Goldberg who brought the family business from New Jersey to the East End. “Fourteen years ago, I was vacationing out here and I saw a sign in Southampton that said, ‘Bagel store wanted.’ I left a bunch of stores in Bergen County for a better life in the Hamptons,” Mr. Goldberg said.
Located on County Road 39, Goldberg’s Southampton shop was a success, and six years later, Mark Goldberg had the opportunity to open an East Hampton store, this one at 100 Pantigo Place.
“I was in O’Malley’s when I heard that the health food store wanted to get out of their lease,” Mr. Goldberg said. His uncle Marty Wayne was his partner in opening the second South Fork store.
At first, the elder Mr. Wayne had his doubts about the location. “You’re in the back of a building. You’re not in town,” Mr. Wayne remembers his father saying to his cousin. But he threw himself into the business.
“My father was a real schmoozer,” Mr. Wayne said about the business’s early days in East Hampton. “He would go to London Jewelers, Prudential, the hair salons” to drum up business.
Eventually, though, the elder Mr. Wayne wanted to return to New Jersey. His son wanted to come to East Hampton. “He was 65. I said to him, ‘Whenever you don’t want to do this anymore.’ ” Two years ago, the two men traded businesses, with Paul coming east.
Now, Paul Wayne knows most of his clientele by their first names, and just how they like their bagels.
Key to the Goldbergs’ success was mastering the art of making a bagel and slicing the lox.
“My dad taught me,” Mr. Goldberg said. “I am by trade a bagel roller and bialy maker. Paul is more of a counter man. Cutting corned beef and pastrami, a lox cutter.”
Lox must be cut paper thin to qualify for a Goldberg’s bagel or flagel (a flat bagel).
From Memorial Day until Columbus Day, Goldberg’s imports a lox slicing expert from Staten Island to stay ahead of the demand.
“I’ve been doing this since I was a kid,” Stuart Kull, the Goldberg’s hired knife, said last week.
“The key to slicing lox is a light hand and a sharp knife,” Mr. Kull said. “During the height of the season, I can slice up to 100 pounds a day.”
While not a Goldberg, Mr. Kull is part of the extended family. “His dad had a store next to my dad’s store in Jersey,” Mr. Goldberg explained.
Indeed, the entire staff has a family feel. “It’s fun here,” said Aura Hernandez, as she doled out bagels to hungry customers.
Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Wayne are willing to discuss their recipe for bagels, to a point. “Flour, water, brown sugar, a little salt, and our own special ingredients,” said Mr. Wayne, explaining that the secret ingredients used date back to the first Goldberg store in the Bronx.
“We mix the dough for about 12 and a half minutes,” Mr. Wayne said, adding that some bagels can be mixed in one of their 200-pound mixers, though all are rolled by hand, while other bagels, pumpernickel among them, must be done entirely by hand, depending upon the particular dough.
Mr. Goldberg’s father taught him the art of bagel rolling.
Originally, the bagel business in New York City was a wholesale business, with the bagels being sold to delis and stores nearby.
The bagel rollers who made the bagels were part of a tight union, which was strictly father and son. Owners were not taught the secrets of the trade.
That changed when the first retail bagel store opened, according to Mr. Goldberg, “The first retail store was Bagel Oasis on the Long Island Expressway — really called Triboro,” because the three owners were from the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. “That’s where everybody went to learn back in 1960. It was in Fresh Meadows, and is still there today.”
That was where Mr. Goldberg’s father learned the secrets of bageldom, which he, in turn, taught his son.
But there is more to Goldberg’s than bagels. There’s also what Mr. Goldberg called “the Jewish soul food” — brisket and corned beef, pastrami and matzo ball soup, and other traditional dishes, all prepared under the direction of Denise Goldberg, Mr. Goldberg’s wife, who doubles as chef, as well as supervising the day-to-day operations at the Southampton store, along with their daughter, Amanda.
At the beginning of July, Mr. Wayne and Mr. Goldberg opened Goldberg’s Bagels and Flagels Deli in Montauk, which they are hoping to keep open year round.
Besides their Hobo, a bagel with eggs, cheese, bacon, and home fries, their Power House wrap — egg whites, turkey, and cheese in a whole wheat wrap — became their hottest Montauk seller.
The East Hampton store is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s not about the money,” Mr. Wayne explained. Their customers rely on them to be there, on holidays as well as on working days, and so they are. Mr. Goldberg gets to work at 4 a.m., and Mr. Wayne not much later.
“It’s a mom-and-pop kind of place,” Mr. Wayne said, “It’s old school, just like the bagels.”