New York City’s iconic bagel cafes are making desperate attempts to locate cream cheese after the supply chain shortage left many just days away from running out.
From Zabar’s to Pick-a-Bagel and Tompkins Square Bagels, bagel makers from all over the Big Apple say they barely have a few days’ schmear supply left, threatening to take a NYC delicacy off the menu indefinitely.
‘This is bad. This is very bad,’ said Pedro Aguilar, a manager at a Pick-a-Bagel chain, which has several Manhattan locations. Earlier this weekend, Mr. Aguilar said he had only enough cream cheese to last until Monday.
Nick Patta, an employee who’s working at Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side for the last 11 years, told the New York Times that his Queens-based cream cheese supplier had run out of their go-to cream cheese brand for the first time that in over a decade. He says that he now has just over three days supply of cream cheese left.
‘We went this week and the shelves were empty,’ Patta added. ‘If we cannot find cream cheese, I worry now, what are we going to do?’ he added.
Pedro Aguilar, a manager at a Pick-a-Bagel chain, pictured, which has several Manhattan locations said Friday afternoon that he had only enough cream cheese to last until Monday
The general manager at Zabar’s, Scott Goldshine, gave an estimate of 10 days when asked about his cream cheese supply, before adding that he had called about eight different distributors over the last several days.
‘Begging is one of my plans, which I have done, and it’s helped,’ Mr. Goldshine told the Times.
‘If anybody’s got it, let them call me.’
Most delis receive cream cheese made by Philadelphia, whose parent company is Heinz. But the dairy product they are delivered is markedly different from the Philly American shoppers pick up on supermarket shelves.
It comes unwhipped and unprocessed, and in huge blocks, allowing delis and cafes to blend it to their specifications. Most add in different ingredients – such as scallions, dill or blueberries, which is then used to complement different bagel fillings.
Going out to a supermarket and buying regular-sized tubs of Philadelphia is impractical, and also means deli owners won’t be serving up their specific cream cheese formula that has won them loyal customers.
The general manager at Zabar’s (pictured), Scott Goldshine, gave an estimate of 10 days when asked about his cream cheese supply on Friday
New York bagel sellers go through thousands of pounds of cream cheese, pictured, every few weeks
Heinz say they’ve seen a 35 per cent spike in demand for cream cheese in recent months, when grilled by the Times about the ongoing shortage.
They also site the ongoing supply chain shortage, which has seen products run out due to issues including a shortage of truck drivers, and shortages of other vital staff due to COVID vaccine mandates that many have refused to comply with.
The ongoing supply chain issues have continued to rattle a number of industries beyond bagel spreads, from running shoes and cars to winter jackets in Alaska.
A shortfall of raw materials has been blamed as one of the central reasons behind the supply chain shortages.
Frank Mattera, who runs the Bagelsmith Cafe in Williamsburg, took matters into his own hands last week and drove a truck to New Jersey to pick up 2,000 pounds of cream cheese.
Meanwhile, bagel makers in New York are now starting to feel the effects of this involuntary nationwide austerity, with many beginning to hoard as much cream cheese as possible.
The outlet spoke to owners and workers from around 20 bagel shops and delis across the city, with the majority saying they were getting frustrated with the shortages, as they work to hoard as much cream cheese as they can.
Nick Patta of Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side, pictured, said that his Queens-based cream cheese supplier had run out of cream cheese for the first time that in over a decade
Pictured: Bagelsmith, one of countless bagel cafes in New York City that are feeling the impact of the cream cheese shortage citywide
Several customers interviewed by the Times at Absolute Bagels on Friday said that if cream cheese was not available, pictured in bagel above, they would be less likely to order one at all
‘I’ve never been out of cream cheese for 30 years,’ said Joseph Yemma, the owner of F&H Dairies in Brooklyn, a dairy product distributor for many of the city’s bagel shops.
‘There’s no end in sight.’
Meanwhile, the Times reported that dairy suppliers said cream cheese orders placed with manufacturers have come up short over the last three weeks.
However, Patta’s usual supplier told him they could not confirm when the next shipment would come in.
While he said he planned on checking with other suppliers in the city, Patta added he was still alarmed by the recent developments.
To make matters worse, several customers interviewed by the Times at Absolute Bagels on Friday said that if the popular spread was not available, they would be less likely to order a bagel at all.
‘Probably not, no,’ said James Giaquinto.
One bagel maker added that his dairy supplier called him Thursday night informing him that his 800-pound order of cream cheese scheduled for a Friday delivery would not be arriving
Patta said that Absolute Bagels, pictured, currently has enough cream cheese to last them until Thursday.
‘That’s an essential part of the bagel.’
The Times reported that the product shortage began several months ago, when several shop owners said they began to run low on other items like coffee cup lids, Gatorade, and deli sandwich wrappers before cream cheese was added to that list.
‘It’s been very weird things, and always the same story,’ said Christopher Pugliese, the owner of Tompkins Square Bagels in the East Village.
‘All of us behind the scenes, when you go into the shops, we’re all struggling to patch things together.’
And there appears to be no end in sight for the shortage, either, as Pugliese added that his dairy supplier called him Thursday night informing him that his 800-pound order of cream cheese scheduled for a Friday delivery would not be arriving.
‘I was like, “What am I going to do this weekend?”‘ Mr. Pugliese said.
‘Four people just told me they can’t get me cream cheese.’