Plus ça change

Glaser’s Bake Shop closed on Sunday after 116 years in business.

My first apartment in New York was across the street from Glaser’s. I discovered them solely by proximity, as one does in Manhattan, particularly in the pre-smartphone days, where a person had to size up an establishment with his five senses.

The unassuming bakery with the aging storefront took a little effort to try, but once I did, I was hooked. Not only on their famous black and white cookies (I’m not even a big fan of the black and white cookie—only theirs) but of the bakery in general, from birthday cakes to the challah they’d bake only on Fridays, when there was sufficient demand.

Glaser’s closing was a retirement, well communicated in advance. I made the foolhardy decision to visit one last time on Saturday, spending [redacted] hours on line with my son to get one last order. It’s something I didn’t do when the Carnegie closed, and it was nice to say farewell. Not so my family’s two favorite restaurants in Greenwich Village, Cho Cho San and Charlie Mom, which both disappeared rather unceremoniously in the past few years, each after more than 20 years in business. We wish we’d been able to say farewell to them, too.

Glaser’s and the restaurants serve as a reminder, however melancholy, of the ever-changing landscape of the city. Yet they’re also an opportunity to celebrate their longevity and wonderfulness. And they provide us with momentum to revisit the things we love about New York.

My employer has an office in midtown Manhattan, three blocks from where I worked at the turn of the century. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that the Ernest Klein supermarket on Sixth Avenue might still be serving lunch, like it did when I worked up the block, fifteen years ago. So I stopped in. They’ve renovated a bit, but they made me the same exact sandwich, with the same exact honey mustard that I used to adore, but last tasted in 2003. A good number of the lunch spots on West 56th are unchanged, too, and I hope to visit them all in turn.

Things change. But not all things change, and not all at once. Savoring those that don’t is worth the effort.