NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The oldest Jewish bagel shop in New York City has been rescued by two Muslim cab drivers.
Peerzada Shah, who attended culinary school in Manhattan after immigrating from Pakistan, and Zafaryab Ali recently took over the 91-year-old Coney Island Bialys and Bagels.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports
Ali worked as a baker at the Coney Island Avenue store for 11 years before leaving five years ago to earn more dough driving a cab.
“Eleven years I work here. And after that I drive yellow cab,” Ali said. “Ii know about that, bialys and bagels and baking.”
When he heard the shop was in danger of closing, he immediately contacted his former roommate and decided to pull together to save the store. Together they used their savings to buy a bakery with a legendary reputation.
“It’s a Jewish-owned place for years. And now you’re going to sell it to Muslims? Thats odd,” customer Tom Smith told CBS 2′s Jay Dow.
Ali and Shah are determined to make this a smooth transition. They kept Ross old family bialy recipe and the same employees.
The two Muslim New Yorkers from Pakistan say they’ll resume selling kosher products by the end of the year.
“I just have to wait to finish my renovation and probably a month later, I’m going to bring a rabbi here to certify that it is a kosher item,” said Shah.
“Everybody’s happy,” Ali said. “I use the same ingredients, same machine, same employees.”
Customers are happy and relieved.
“No, I havent noticed a difference. Best bialys in Brooklyn,” Smith added.
“I love it, I’m here all the time, they take good care of me,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks.
Former shop owner Steven Ross, who closed the shop in September because of the bad economy, has been advising the duo.
“People from Pennsylvania come here to get the bialys,” said customer Ray Duffy.
“We work hard, we hope with success, in this business,” Ali said.
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