From horse-and-buggy baker to the boss of bagels
Beloved Bathurst bakeshop has a century of history by Jessica Wei
The Gryfe family’s legacy of baking began in 1915, when Sam Gryfe peddled his baked goods out of a horse and carriage in Hamilton. Over a century later, the family is still baking. In 1961, Arthur Gryfe improvised a recipe that would become their signature three-bite fluffy bagel. Arthur’s son, Moishe, now runs the beloved family business.
How did your family get into the bagel business?
In 1956, My father bought a grocery store on Bathurst. Right after he opened, more stores opened up around the area. He started baking to try to get more business, and a lady came in one day and asked for bagels. My mother said, “Of course! He can make you anything!” My father had never baked a bagel in his life! He turned out something that the lady thought were OK, but he kept tweaking the formula. Now we do about a thousand dozen bagels a day.
What makes Gryfe’s bagels unique?
Most of the bagels you get in a lot of the stores here are much harder and chewier. Ours are very soft and light. It’s a unique product. Some people say, well, that’s not really a bagel. But it’s what people like! The kids can eat them because they’re softer and easier to eat. One of the complaints I’ll get is, “I bought a dozen, and I only got six of them home!”
What does the next 100 years of Gryfe’s look like?
My dad passed away around 1998 and I’ve been carrying the ball. We lived above the store, and my mother and my father worked very hard. I was 13 when I started working, and I’m 69 now. It’s been a long time. People ask me why I don’t retire, but I wouldn’t know what I would do if I retired. My son helps a bit, but I wouldn’t want him to do something that he doesn’t want to do. (3421 Bathurst St., 416-783-1552)
Two-year-old Moishe Gryfe in his mother’s arms, posing with his father, Arthur Gryfe, and his brothers