After 28 years of serving the Center Moriches community and beyond, Anthony and Carmen Dagostino, longtime owners and operators of Moriches Bagel Deli on Montauk Highway in Center Moriches, have …
After 28 years of serving the Center Moriches community and beyond, Anthony and Carmen Dagostino, longtime owners and operators of Moriches Bagel Deli on Montauk Highway in Center Moriches, have turned in their aprons to spend time at their ranch in Texas, for some much-needed and well-deserved rest and relaxation.
A staple in the community for nearly three decades, the business was sold to Goldberg’s Bagels, the family-owned-and-operated company that has been baking these round icons since 1949. Goldberg’s Bagels officially took over on Friday, Jan. 13. The Center Moriches location joins a list of already successful stores in the Hamptons and on the North Fork.
Anthony purchased the bagel shop from Patty and Rich in Woodland in 1994. He was already operating bagel stores in nearby hamlets, but quickly fell in love with the tightknit community of Center Moriches. At that time, Moriches Bagel Deli was the only bagel shop in town, and one of the few places to get a cup of coffee, as 7-Eleven hadn’t opened yet, said Anthony.
“It was truly a local deli where folks could meet and say hi,” reflected Anthony on running the Bagel Deli in the early days.
Over the years, the Dagostinos would make changes to the deli that would include tweaking the menu, renovating the inside, and establishing their sister business, Moriches Catering. But one thing that remained a constant as the Bagel Deli evolved was the sense of place and community. It was a gathering place for area high school students to grab breakfast before school and a regular lunchtime spot for students with senior privileges, as well for the early-bird commuters and folks on their way to work.
Dave Kaloski, Center Moriches resident and owner and operator of Dockside Fabrics Inc., frequented the Bagel Deli at least three to four times a week for a medium coffee and a mini bagel. He appreciated the option of ordering a smaller-size bagel, but also the friendly service that he always received from Carmen, who was a mainstay behind the counter.
“It was a nice way to start off your workday, “said Kaloski. “You always got service with a smile and good food.”
Another Center Moriches resident, Jim Miller, had been a faithful customer at the Bagel Deli for years. A local bayman, Miller found himself going there in the wee hours of the morning before a day’s work on Moriches Bay because the Bagel Deli was one of the only places open that early. “Plus, their bagels were much better than all the other bagel stores around. Carmen and Anthony are good people, and I always like to do business with the townspeople… to keep it local,” Miller added.
The Dagostinos admit that the decision to sell the bagel business didn’t come lightly and was made before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
“We purchased a home in Texas in hopes of spending winters there, but once COVID happened, we were forced to stop working. At that time, we started to reflect on where we had been and where we were headed, and decided it was time to slow down.”
Just as equally difficult was breaking the news to the dedicated employees and loyal patrons. Some of their workers had been at the Bagel Deli for years, including their chef Rich, baker Marcos, and store manager Idalia, who all worked at the Bagel Deli for 20 years; Becca, Carmen’s “right hand,” was there for 14 years.
“These folks are family and deserve the credit for the success of the store,” noted Anthony and Carmen.
Alex Berchin, another longtime employee, left his job at the IGHL Flower Barn to work at the Bagel Deli after seeing a Help Wanted sign in the window.
“With the help of Carmen and her staff, Alex was able to learn and experience a lot,” said Alex’s mother, Barbara Berchin. “He made great friends. Carmen always had his best interests in mind. Alex called her his second mother. Moriches Bagel Deli was a safe and happy place for him.”
Owning a small business did have its ups and downs, said the Dagostinos, with many hurdles to jump.
“This business is 365 days a year; folks rely on you to be there for their morning routine. Now with prices going crazy, it was hard to make money and to get staff. The biggest obstacle of all is having some time to take off and relax.”
But despite the challenges, Anthony and Carmen said they have enjoyed owning and operating Moriches Bagel Deli, noting that the best part of the job has been getting to know their customers.
“We’ve watched the people of the community grow up,” said Carmen. “We had customers that were kids when they first came into the deli, and now they are parents, and some are even grandparents. It’s all about the relationships you build. We had kids that came home that would meet at the Bagel Deli, prior employees who have become Air Force pilots, police officers, teachers and executives, who all come back to say hello.”
Anthony added, “and the little kids who came in to see Carmen because they were excited to tell her about school or a gift they got. The most rewarding part of our business was the opportunity to be a part of all of the amazing people in our community.”