The day after Hurricane Irma impacted South Florida was a blur for many in the region.
Houses were plunged into darkness, almost all street lights were off and many streets were left impassable.
But after a stressful week, many people needed to get out of their homes and feel a sense of normalcy.
That’s what Bagel Bar East (1990 NE 123rd St) specializes in.
On a typical day, Bagel Bar East is a local eatery that people go to find interesting characters in North Miami and traditional New York style fair.
But over the years, it has also become known for being open almost immediately after hurricanes.
The joint is owned by Steven Hochman, a Brooklyn native who has lived in South Florida for over 20 years.
He believes that the community needs his place to be open in times of stress.
And he takes that commitment to his customers seriously.
As Irma started to impact South Florida on September 9, Bagel Bar East remained open until conditions became too dangerous and it reopened at 6:30 AM on September 11, even before the curfew in Miami-Dade County was lifted at 7:00 AM.
” I do it for the community,” Hochman told RISE NEWS as he served food the day after Irma passed. “Everybody needs ice, water and food. People have been saying thank you all day.”
Few locals were surprised by this.
“They know Bagel Bar is going to be open,” Hochman said.
They have a generator that runs the lights and gas powers the cooking equipment.
Dozens of locals from all around Northern Miami-Dade County waited hours to be served.
Bacon, eggs and cheese sandwiches were the big sellers that day.
This isn’t the first time Bagel Bar East has served the community.
They were open soon after Hurricane Wilma hit the area in 2005 as well.
“As long as it’s safe, they are going to be open,” Tracey Heldenmuth a North Miami resident and Bagel Bar East regular said while cheerfully waiting in line. “Thank you Steve for pulling through.”
Thomas Alexander, a baker at Bagel Bar East and North Miami resident was proud of his work that day. He’s worked at the restaurant for over 20 years and understands what it means for the community.
“Without us, they won’t be eating,” Alexander said. “It makes me feel happy. I love to see people eat and be happy.”
While Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage across South Florida, it also exposed a level of human goodness.
It also taught some folks in Miami how important something as simple as a bagel can be in the face of crisis.