By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — News of H&H Bagels' West 80th Street store closing wasn't just a surprise to bagel aficionados — it was also a shock to their landlord.
"I'm as surprised and disappointed as everyone on the West Side," said Janet Simon of Friedland Properties, which owns several Upper West Side buildings.
Simon said she didn't know why H&H owner Helmer Toro was closing the location. Employees at the store told DNAinfo the owners couldn't afford the rent.
"Why he's losing it, I don't know," she said.
The 2,100 square-foot space is in a "good location," Simon said, but she said they haven't started advertising for a new tenant yet.
She wouldn't speculate what kind of a store would replace H&H Bagels on the heavily-trafficked corner, but she said she thought another food business would be a no-go.
"It's too close to Zabar's," Simon said.
Friedland Properties also owns several building along Broadway and West 77th Street, where plans are underway to build a high-rise apartment building and a CVS pharmacy.
Locals now fear that a chain store like CVS will take over H&H Bagels' former space.
One expert said they're probably right.Faith Hope Consolo, a retail consultant and chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman's retail group, said H&H would most likely be replaced by a national fashion retailer, a bank or "it could be — don’t throw up — a Duane Reade," she said.
It takes more bread than H&H could ever bake to keep a business afloat on such a prime corner, where retail rents run about $300 a square foot, Consolo said.
"It's not about dozens. It's about dollars," Consolo said. "No bread can pay for $300 a square foot."
H&H's demise shouldn't come as too much of a shock, Consolo said. She chalked it up to changing tastes in a changing neighborhood.
While the Upper West Side has traditionally been known for heavyweight culinary contenders such as Fairway Market, Citarella and Zabar's, the retail landscape has shifted in recent years to allow for more fashion and luxury uses, Consolo said.
Barneys Co-op and high-end shoe store Stuart Weitzman opened three blocks south of H&H several years ago, and Century 21 is moving this fall into the space once occupied by Barnes & Noble bookstore near Lincoln Center, Consolo noted.
"It's a sign of the times," Consolo said.
Upper West Siders see the loss of H&H as yet another assault on the neighborhood's rapidly eroding character.
"This is one more step in the Upper West Side becoming a little less of a neighborhood and a little more like a suburban mall," said Laura Weiss, an Upper West Side author who writes the blog Food and Things. "This is cutting out the heart of the neighborhood."