Mark Osolin, former co-owner of Bialys Bagels

Mark Osolin, former co-owner of Bialys Bagels, joined the family business when he married Ellen in 1981. 

Solon resident Ellen Osolin said she recalls her childhood watching her father, Terry Skolnick, hand-make bagels in the kitchen of Bialy’s Bagels on Warrensville Road in University Heights. And she said he continued to hand-make the bagels until they got an automatic machine.

Skolnick opened the bakery under the name University Heights Bagels and Bialys in 1966, where Osolin and her siblings, Susan and Steven, worked since a young age.

When her parents moved to Florida in 1997, Osolin and her husband, Mark, took over the store. Skolnick died in 2012.

Now the Osolins are ready to move on and earlier this month, sold the stores to sisters Rachel and Sarah Gross of South Euclid.

Osolin said negotiations began over the summer and the store changed ownership Dec 4.

“We are ready for our next chapter in our life,” said the 60-year-old Osolin. “We have grown children and some grandchildren that we wanted to spend some time with. Working as much as we always did, we just didn’t get to do those things.”

She said since Bialy’s Bagels was a family business, it was all she had ever known.

“My husband and I got married 36 years ago and that’s when he started, right after we got married,” she said. “We’ve worked and now it’s time to move on.”

Osolin said how the new owners were found is a great story. 

“I’m a tennis player and I was playing tennis in Beachwood with a group of girls that I had just met,” she said. “We were exchanging stories about what we do for a living, and one of the girls mentioned that she and her husband owned Sand’s Delicatessen in Van Aken, and I thought, ‘Oh, my husband and I used to service your restaurant many years ago.’ And she asked me who I was and I told her. I asked her why she got out of the business and it was the same thing we were feeling – they were tired and ready to move on.”

Then the woman mentioned she knew someone that might be interested in buying Bialy’s.

“I didn’t think anything would materialize,” she said. “I just left and the next day, they reached out to me. And from that moment on, we were in negotiations.”  

Rachel Gross said years ago, she and her sister started a cream cheese business that was inspired by their uncle’s bagel business.

“Almost 30 years ago, our uncle who was an anesthesiologist moved to Winston Salem, N.C., and he found that he couldn’t get a bagel on his way to the hospital so he opened his own store,” said Gross, a member of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood. “And ever since my sister and our late brother started visiting his bagel store, we developed a passion to bring that to Cleveland. Sarah and I seriously started our pursuit of a bagel store six years ago and we pursued a bunch of different real estate and we were unsuccessful in striking a deal.”

Rachel, 33, said as their cream cheese business grew, they put that venture on hold until they could find bagels to pair with it.

 “We just got lucky and we were tipped off that the owners of Bialy’s were trying to sell,” she said. “We started negotiating with them and we struck a deal.”

“We want to continue (Bialy’s) reputation,” Rachel said. “It’s been in business for 51 years and we want to keep it in business for 51 more years, maintaining the same quality everyone knows and loves.”

Osolin said she wishes the new owners nothing but success. 

“After a period of time, we will not be involved,” she said. “We would like to exit gracefully. Right now, we are in close contact with them and teaching them. We are behind them all the way, and they are truly great girls.”

The new owners hope to create new memories.

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