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Bell Boulevard bagel shop marks its 10th year

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It's a rare way to see one of Bayside's busiest streets: sitting at a counter with coffee in hand, relaxing near a large window as the bustle of a bagel shop and deli roars on happily behind you and the action on Bell Boulevard plays out in front of you.

It's a scene that unfolds every day at Hot Bagel and Bake, which has been giving customers a chance to unwind and grab a bite on Bell Boulevard for 10 years.

Owner Al Gill said he took over the business, located at 40-15 Bell Blvd., from its previous owner a decade ago because he wanted to work for himself. Now, he said in an interview Friday, it feels good to see how the store has developed.

"I started by myself and now I have 15 people working here," he said. "It's nice to see the business grow up."

Gill, who lived in Bayside for years before moving out of Queens, said most of the customers have been regulars. Given the comfortable and friendly atmosphere of the deli and bagel shop, that's no surprise. Hot Bagel and Bake is one of the few places on Bell Boulevard, which serves as Bayside's "Main Street," where one can sit down in a casual setting to eat.

With small round tables and a window counter looking out onto Bell Boulevard customers can enjoy the store's boiled bagels, chicken salad, or a meal of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil on a bagel. If not lunch, there are plenty of chocolate chip cookies or apple turnovers to whet the appetite.

Gill said he moved the store to its present location seven years ago from a spot further up on Bell Boulevard near what is now the Crazy Moose Saloon. Though he's renovated a few times over the years, he said he has kept the same format of chairs, tables, and window counter because the customers approve.

He described Bayside as "a very special place" and a good location for a business because of its proximity to major roads and expressways.

"Bayside is part of New York City, but you feel like you're in the suburbs," he said. "You get all kinds [of people] - usually the good kinds."

To celebrate the store's 10th anniversary, Gill has been offering a 10 percent discount to customers. He said the promotion would continue for a few more weeks.

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