Barry Greenblatt, 65, who brought traditional New York-style bagels to northwest Ohio noshers and quickly became synonymous with the boiled and baked bread even as he expanded his menu, died Thursday in his Sylvania Township home.
He was not ill, and his death was unexpected, his daughter Mindy said. The cause was not immediately known.
His death was announced early Friday, and by midevening, scores of commenters at toledoblade.com — customers, former employees, other business owners — offered condolences and shared memories.
“It’s a huge loss for the community and everybody who loved him, and a lot of people loved him,” his daughter said.
Mr. Greenblatt was the “Barry” in Barry Bagels, of which his son, Mark, is president. And “Barry” might as well have been his corporate title as well, said Jim Nusbaum, chief executive of the recently formed Barry Bagels Franchise Holdings, which plans to expand into such markets as Columbus.
“He did everything. He worked the oven,” Mr. Nusbaum said. “He worked the counter. He enjoyed the day-to-day interaction with customers and employees and vendors. He was unbelievable at building relationships quickly.”
Mr. Nusbaum’s first job at age 15 was at the Barry Bagels on Holland-Sylvania Road. At 43, Mr. Nusbaum stands by his first impression: “The person who owns the company is working the hardest,” he recalled.
Mr. Greenblatt’s daughter Mindy said, “He taught us that things don’t come easy and hard work pays off and you should appreciate what you have every day.
“He was vibrant and happy,” his daughter said. “He made us feel lucky we were on this planet this day.” Or, as he told his children, “‘You’re OK today. You’re alive today. You have two legs,’ ” his daughter said.
He was a newlywed in 1972 when he and a business partner opened the Bagel Place in Sylvania. The Toledo area had delicatessens, some decades old, but the crusty, chewy bread was not widely available. Mr. Greenblatt bought his business partner’s interest in 1979, opened new locations through the years, and changed the name. The menu grew to include deli-style bagel sandwiches, soups, salads, baked potatoes, and desserts.
“As jovial as Barry was, he had a very keen business mind. He had a keen intellect,” Mr. Nusbaum said.
Mr. Greenblatt also was known for the fund-raising program he set up to help community groups and his charitable donations.
“The Toledo market has been very good to us, and we’ve enjoyed being here 40 years,” Mr. Greenblatt told The Blade in 2012.
He was born June 9, 1949, to Marye and Alex Greenblatt and grew up in northwest Detroit. He was a graduate of Mumford High School, where he was on the tennis team, and attended Oakland Community College and Eastern Michigan University.
He had been an owner of the former Central Tennis & Fitness Center and was an investor when he and Beaner’s Gourmet Coffee — now Biggby Coffee — of East Lansing, Mich., bought the local coffee chain, Sufficient Grounds.
Surviving are his wife, Judith, whom he married March 4, 1972; son, Mark; daughters, Mindy Streem and Marnie Sylzer; brother, Leslie, and eight grandsons.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Sunday in The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim, Sylvania Township, where he was a member. The family will receive friends from 6-8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in the Greenblatt home. Arrangements are by the Walker Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to the Barry Greenblatt Fund at the temple.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.