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Gabila's knishes return; customer happy at last

Holly DiGenova of East Meadow is the first

Holly DiGenova of East Meadow is the first customer at Merrick Bagel Cafe to order a Gabila square knish after a five-month "drought" on Feb. 24, 2014. (Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

It’s not usually a momentous occasion when the knishes show up, but Monday morning it was. When the Gabila’s truck arrived at Merrick Bagel Café, it had been almost five months since the last delivery of fried, square “Coney Island”-style knishes. On Sept. 24, a fire broke out at Gabila’s Copiague factory and the one-of-a-kind knish-making machine was severely damaged.

Early in February the necessary replacement parts were delivered to Copiague, last week the fire marshal cleared Gabila’s to resume production. During the weekend, the machine started up again and on Monday at 4 a.m. the knishes began to make their way throughout Long Island, New York and the rest of the country.

Merrick Bagel Café took delivery of 120 knishes at 9 a.m. Ten were arranged prettily in a tray in the display case; another ten were split, “loaded” with turkey and Swiss cheese, and stacked on another tray. A sign reading “They’re baaack!!! Gabila’s Potato Knishes” was erected at the store’s entrance.

At 11:45, Holly DiGenova of East Meadow approached the register, ordered two “loaded” knishes to go and one hot one to eat on the spot.

“I have a big knish relationship,” she said. “I buy them in six-packs at the supermarket, but when I see them in a store like this I pick up a few, too. I always like to have them around.”

At home DiGenova is adamant about baking the knishes. “They can’t be microwaved — then they’re not crispy.” But at Merrick Bagel Café she treated herself to a grilled knish. Which is exactly the way the store’s manager Nick Musco likes them. “I’ll leave them on the griddle for close to an hour,” he said. “Then they get really crusty.”

Musco left DiGenova’s on the griddle for a good 10 minutes and, when it was delivered to her booth, it was crisp and steaming. “It’s “nice and toasty,” she said. “It’s perfect.” She picked up a knife and fork. “But could I have some mustard?”

Knishes are $2.95 apiece ($5.95 “loaded” and served with a side salad and pickle) at Merrick Bagel Cafe, 2035 Merrick Rd., Merrick, 516-377-72222.

After Merrick Bagel Cafe, Gabila's truck delivered to Zan's Kosher Deli in Lake Grove on Monday. Most Costco and BJ's wholesale clubs also took delivery. Regal Deli in Plainview and Commack Kosher Deli and Market are scheduled for delivery on Tuesday. Between its own trucks and those of independent distributors, Gabila's expects to have reached all retail and food-service customers on Long Island by Friday. 

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