Sam Asatur, 56, walks through the doors of the Bagel Plaza at 5 a.m. every day. He begins preparing menu items from scratch like his Israeli hot blintzes and specialty salads.
Asatur’s business has been standing on Merrick Road for the past 75 years. Asatur took ownership in 1991 with the intent of focusing on the quality of his food and seeing customers happy when they eat it. This past summer, he shared this goal with his daughter, Yana Hirschorn, 34, of Port Washington.
Asatur immigrated to America from Ukraine 28 years ago. He found work behind the counter at the Bagel Baron in Forest Hills and became enamored by the business. “I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
Three years later, he bought the Bagel Plaza from its original owner, Norman Slotnick, who came from a family of bakers in Eastern Europe. “Today we bake the same way as he did,” Asatur said.
Hirschorn joined her father’s business to expand the menu and services it provides. She has thought of several ideas to implement this winter, including new breakfast and lunch specials, chopped salads with homemade dressings and additions to their catering and delivery services. This includes a pick-up option, “for that mother who drives here with her two children and doesn’t want to schlep out of the car to get her food,” Hirschorn said.
Asatur has made several additions to the menu as well and said his favorite was inspired by the birth of his granddaughter. Appropriately named the “Grandpa Special,” he toasts a bagel with a smear of whitefish, a slice of Nova Scotia salmon and egg salad on top. When he makes it for his granddaughter, who has Celiac Disease, he uses a gluten-free roll he bakes from scratch using tapioca and rice flour.
“It took me a month to get the recipe for that right,” Asatur said. He said he views every customer with such respect as the Bagel Plaza caters to all allergies, keeps kosher and is a peanut-free facility.
Asatur said he has loyal customers from across Long Island, Manhattan and even Westchester. “They come once and can tell the difference right away,” he said, priding himself on having a bagel business that stands out.