September 18, 2023
Korshak Bagels will close its South Philly shop this weekend, ending a cult-like run that elevated the art of bagel-making in the city.
Owner Phil Korshak posted a video on Instagram on Monday morning displaying a letter explaining his decision to shut down the business at 1700 S. 10th St. The last day of service will be Sunday, Sept. 24.
"In the end, (with) two and a half years of experience and evidence, the shop simply can't function economically," Korshak writes in the letter. "And provide a living wage. And work/life balance. And reasonable prices."
Last year, Bon Appétit named Korshak Bagels among its 50 best new restaurants in the country. The shop also has been praised by Forbes, and the New York Times included Korshak among the 50 spots on its 2021 Restaurant List, writing that the bakery's creations "will make you crave a Philly bagel."
Korshak's staff hoped to keep the shop running, but the owner believes changes were needed to keep Korshak Bagels open — like automating the preparation of dough and using a computer kiosk to take orders — and that those changes could undermine the quality of the bagels.
"Every bagel is a love letter," Korshak says. "Every interaction (with) a human being is meaningful. It is not a product, the bagel. They are not units. Or, truthfully, I cannot approach them that way."
Korshak got his unusual start in Philly in 2018, when he began taking orders via Instagram DMs. He partnered with Angelo's Pizzeria, which let him use their kitchen to prepare bagels for pickup. Korshak soon became overwhelmed with orders and decided to open his own storefront to sell fresh bagels, schmears and sandwiches.
The arduous process Korshak employs to create his bagels entails slowly fermenting his dough for 48 hours using wild sourdough yeast that he has cultivated for years, which he has named Helen Mirren.
During the pandemic, Korshak Bagels operated as a takeout-only shop using an online ordering platform for pickups. In recent weeks, Korshak shared several Instagram posts explaining that the business was back in COVID mode and had reintroduced online ordering.
In his letter on Monday, Korshak indicated part of the reason for the closure was the number of hours he was working and the limited amount of time he's had off since opening.
"I cannot continue in this way. I am genuinely sorry to say that I have failed my vision. I am genuinely grateful that the people around me value my health more than the existence of the bagel shop. I am massively grateful to be in accordance (with) that philosophy."
Before he started making bagels, Korshak was in academia and had studied poetry. Poems scrawled out on brown paper bags have sometimes been posted on the store's window, with other musings shared on Instagram alongside photos of bagels held up against the South Philly morning sky.
"I cannot express my gratitude to the people of this town and beyond who have showered love and hope into this shop," Korshak writes in his Instagram post. "I am floored by the massive orchestral voice that returned when I shouted into the canyon, expecting only to hear my echo. I am so very sorry to meet that kind of embrace (with) the bitter reality of the shop's ultimate closure."