Firefighters battled flames and heat on Shirley Avenue at one of the most iconic restaurants in Revere – The Bagel Bin.
The call came in around 11:38 p.m. on Monday and soon turned to four alarms as firefighters worked through the early morning hours Tuesday to douse the flames. When dawn broke, you could see right through The Bagel Bin at 207 Shirley Ave. Just a shell stood.
Owners George and Ella Vlladesi stood across the street just looking at the business they have run for 20 years being consumed by flames.
George said he couldn’t understand what had happened, as he had locked up and turned off appliances the same way he has always done before he leaves each night.
Sure, Bagel Bin had bagels, but it also had its breakfast and lunch selections, and an amazing amount of character.
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky held court more than a few times, saying the the Bagel Bin was his second home. “We’re going to have to move on and rebuild,” he said. “They took care of a lot of people, they even feed some of the homeless.”
“This is heartbreaking for us,” said Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso, one of many local officials who held court every morning at the Bagel Bin.
The Bagel Bin is the go-to place for those seeking political office, locally and nationally. The restaurant has served as a forum for Gov. Charlie Baker to announce grants or stop on his way home to Swampscott during winter storms. Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo has been a patron and even the late U.S. Sen. John McCain found his way there while campaigning for President.
Every mayor of Revere has been in the Bagel Bin, especially the late former mayors Robert Haas and George Colella. Haas’ wife Juanita stopped by to give condolences to the Vlladesi family.
“I used to come down every day with him [Robert Haas], it was part of his life for 35 years,” Juanita Haas said. “It’s very sad.”
Robert Haas loved the Bagel Bin so much they dedicated a sign to him right next to the building.
“Over the years the Bagel Bin has become a defacto annex of Revere City Hall with clientele that represented every corner of the city,” said Councillor and former mayor Dan Rizzo. “They have served the Revere business community well.”
Ironically, the Bagel Bin sign had no fire damage and stood proudly with two untouched American flags.
“This is a stopping place for people who want to meet people from Revere,” said Licensing Commission chairman Robert Selevitch, who is a regular at the Bagel Bin.
“We are in complete shock,” said the Bagel Bin owner’s daughter, Katherine Prifti, at a press conference. “My parents started this business 20 years ago, June 2 was the 20th anniversary.”
“We didn’t run it like a business – we ran it like a family,” said Prifti who choked back tears as she spoke. “We’ve had customers who were at my wedding. It was a family for us. Last night was surreal. This was their American Dream.”
She began working in the restaurant at the age of 13, sitting on a stool next to the cash register.
“My dad knows everybody’s name when they come in, he knows what they’ll order. Everybody is family to us. We are so appreciative of the love and support we’re getting from everyone,” Prifti said.
“It’s a devastating loss for not only the owner but the Revere community and the many residents who enjoyed fine food that was served there. It is my hope that George will make an effort to rebuilding or relocate within the city of Revere,” said Ward 5 Councillor John Powers.
“For so many years the Bagel Bin has been a place for elected officials and Revere residents to not only have a good meal, but to discuss Revere’s politics, history and gossip. I am hopeful that this beloved meeting place and Shirley Avenue anchor will reopen in the future.” Said House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
“The Bagel Bin Deli was not only a great place to get a bite to eat, it was a place to be if you wanted the latest news of what was happening in the city,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “Councillor Novoselsky would often joke that it was the ‘real’ City Hall. That’s why the Bagel Bin was the scene when Gov. Baker came to Revere to announce a $2 million grant to benefit Shirley Avenue. Our hearts are with the Vlladesi family during this difficult time. Please know the city is here to help you out in whatever way possible.”
The Vlladeses, who immigrated from Albania, said they plan to rebuild.