Korshak Bagels at 10th and Morris streets in South Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Korshak Bagels will be closing its doors for good this month, after two and half years of operations. The 10th and Morris storefront will hold its last day of service on Sept. 24.

A statement posted to social media by owner Philip Korshak attributed the decision to the fact that “the shop simply can’t function economically” while offering everything asked of it, including a living wage to its staff, reasonable prices for its customers, and a work-life balance for himself.

“I cannot express my gratitude to the people of this town and beyond who have showered love and hope on this shop,” Korshak wrote. “This was a comet that I caught the tail of and rode until I could ride it no more.”

The news has been received by an outpouring of support and fond farewells on social media to the business owner with the often-repeated mantra, “every bagel is a love letter.”

A Brooklyn native, Korshak moved to Austin in the early 2000’s, where he worked up the ranks of Home Slice Pizza and first developed an interest in dough — specifically, bagel making. Coming to Philly in 2018, he landed a job as a dough maker at Angelo’s Pizzeria in the Italian Market, setting up a pop-up in its kitchen for his bagels. In February 2020, he signed the lease for his own shop only to see its opening beset by pandemic-related delays. 

Unable to launch, Korshak, who has a master’s degree in poetry from Wake Forest University, would instead regularly post his own compositions, handwritten on craft paper, in his store window. The practice has continued until as recently as last week.

Since opening mid-May 2021, Korshak Bagels has framed itself as a people-first business for both employees and customers, from a staff unionization immediately recognized by Korshak a month after opening, to an in-store spinning wheel to help customers navigate the menu’s options. 

The spot soon became a favorite for neighborhood residents and beyond, even garnering a spot as one of Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in America for 2022. It was “a place,” according to its website, “where you go and meet the friend you have not yet met” — appropriate given the amount of time customers could expect to spend in Korshak’s notoriously long lines.

In the statement posted to Instagram, Korshak hinted at cost-cutting, efficiency-increasing changes to operations suggested by staff, who he wrote “would prefer to continue” operations. The suggestions — including automation of dough-making and the introduction of electronic kiosks — were ultimately dismissed by Korshak for not being in sync with the brand.

“While I am honored by the staff’s sharing of their vision, it is not a vision I share,” Korshak wrote.

Korshak’s bagels all go through a 48-hour slow-rise process, and come from the same starter which he began in 2018, a green apple skin-fed concoction he’s named Helen Mirren. Available for the next week, the menu includes eight varieties of “tried & true” bagels like plain, everything, sesame and poppy, as well as six “with the fancy” types, including pumpernickel, rye, egg-rything, and cinnamon raisin. Fish options are whitefish salad, nova lox, and pastrami smoked salmon. 

Schmears are available in two-and-a-half, eight, and 16-oz containers. The house variety is a blend of goat milk and mozzarella brine, while flavored options include scallion, roasted long hot and veggie, and “schmancy” selections like strawberry, a blueberry compote, and Lady Bunny, a combination of shredded carrots, roasted walnuts, goat milk-drunk raisins, and cinnamon. There are also chutneys and jams.

Korshak’s statement hinted at a possible future for the bagel store, but not one that would include him. “Maybe there is someone who can do it,” he wrote, before concluding, “that person is not me.”

Ali Mohsen is Billy Penn's food and drink reporter.