|© Tabi Walters|
by Vickie Elmer
Ten years ago, when Zingerman's first started giving away a half-dozen "birthday bagels," only about twenty-five people picked them up. By last year, word of the freebie had spread, and close to 2,000 people claimed the treat at Zing's southside Bakehouse. Free-bagel bliss ended this year. Bakehouse patrons can now pick out a free loaf of bread, up to $6.25 in value, with any purchase (even a single cookie or bagel) on their birthdays.
"When we close at seven, I don't want to have any bagels left over," explains Frank Carollo, the Bakehouse's managing partner. "To me, they're a morning thing." Yet customers would show up at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, wanting bagels for evening or even day-after-birthday bashes. "We have a better ability not to disappoint people by allowing them to choose a free loaf of bread."
At the nearby Zingerman's Creamery, too, customers now must buy something to receive a free birthday gelato. At the original Deli downtown, the free bagels have been replaced by a 15 percent birthday discount. Customers will need to spend at least $55 on pastrami sandwiches or brownies to equal the $8 value the six free bagels provided.
Carollo expects Zing's birthday treats will change again--and in less than another ten years. "We want to keep the shopping experience and our world fresh," he says.
[Originally published in May, 2012.]
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