Greg Novik’s bucket list includes safeguarding actual buckets. Specifically, the well-worn storage buckets stacked in back at Greg’s Bagels. “The old buckets are comfortable and easy to grip and easy to use,” he explains. “New buckets, just like everything else new, are not very good.”
Old: good. New: bad. It’s something of a mantra for Novik, 70, impresario of Greg’s Bagels, the Belvedere Square storefront that swept Baltimore from the bagel-barren late 1980s to today’s bagel-dense landscape.
Over that time, Novik has perfected his recipe, trained generations of diligent workers, and attracted an ardent following hungry for his plush bagels schmeared with wry wisdom.
“I think of Greg Novik as the heart and soul of Belvedere Square,” says the writer Anne Tyler, via email. “For years, one of my favorite summer rituals has been my annual trip to Greg’s to stock up on bagels for the family beach trip; it often involved a brief sit-down with Greg amid the chaos and clatter and cozy chatter of his shop, and I always left smiling.”
Fans are no longer smiling. Novik has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On Aug. 1, 2016, Novik locked the shop, leaving a note on the door that ended, “It’s been a terrific 27 ½ years.” Now, he’s focused on staying alive for as long as possible, enjoying time with family, traveling, and training the store&rsqu