Down on Fairfax, south of Olympic, there’s an area now known as Little Ethiopia because it contains around a half-dozen Ethiopian restaurants and one or two retail stores with Ethiopian groceries or gifts. Back in the eighties and before, most of the buildings housed delicatessens and the largest was The Bagel, a very genial place with very mediocre deli food and not much of it.
People went to The Bagel for the waitresses, who were the friendliest in town. Every time I went there, the place was full of older men who, I got the impression, went there every day to flirt with them. (They were mostly older women — older than me, not older than the older men.)
There were two parts to the menu at The Bagel: Hot food and sandwiches. Except at breakfast, they always seemed to be out of whatever hot food you tried to order. I’d try to order the roast chicken and the waitress would say they were out. So I’d try to order the pot roast and the waitress would say they were out. So I’d try to order the brisket platter and guess what. Finally one time, I just turned to her and said, “Let’s do this the easy way. Tell me what you do have.” She answered, “The chicken soup and any of the sandwiches except the turkey pastrami, and we’re out of sourdough and egg bread.” Then she leaned over near me and said, as if she didn’t want anyone else to hear, “The owner only orders the things people are buying. No one’s ordered turkey pastrami lately so the kitchen doesn’t stock it.”
“Well, let me think about what I want then,” I said. “In the meantime, I’d like a bowl of chicken soup and a bagel.”
“Oh, I forgot to mention. We’re out of bagels.”
I acted more shocked than I probably was. “Out of bagels? Isn’t this place called The Bagel? How can you run out of bagels at The Bagel?”
“We didn’t run out,” she explained. “It’s another thing the boss no longer orders.”
Are we surprised The Bagel went out of business? I’m not…but I still kinda miss the place, anyway.