Sunday, May 01, 2005

Just a bagel shop, nothing more

There is a bagel shop in my neighborhood, simply named Hot Bagel Shop. It's been there for years, twenty-three to be exact. Over those years, it has gone through two expansions and can still be considered a tiny place. Although there are two or three tables and one bar along the length of the window, most people go there for their bagels and take them elsewhere to eat. In one Houston publication after another, it's consistently voted as the best bagel shop in town and therefore has quite a loyal customer base. I've never been there when it wasn't packed with a long line and the three people behind the counter working at rapid pace and with good system to get the orders, get the money, and get on to the next in line. As far as I can tell, the shop has been owned and operated by one family. It's currently managed by the son, and the mother still works there. She's an older woman, I'd guess in her 70s, and a slight woman but I would never mistake her for frail. She doesn't look like she'd take crap from anyone.

This morning there was a young guy in line before me. A bit trendy, a bit full of himself. He gets the Mom. He asks if they have prosciutto. No. He asks if they have capers. No. He orders a sandwich and steps back while she goes to prepare it.

While my order is being filled, the guy asks the young girl waiting on me, "Do you take requests?"

She asks if she can help him and he says, "I'd like for you to ask the manager to get prosciutto and capers."

Mom overhears this and returns to the counter. "We are a bagel shop, not a deli. You want prosciutto or capers or chocolate chip bagels, you go uptown to one of those fancy bagel shops or you go to a deli. We're just a bagel shop here."

To which he replies, "I understand you're a traditional business but you also should keep up with the times. It's good business."

"We've been in business twenty-three years and we're doing just fine without prosciutto and capers."

"Well, maybe you can just tell the manager that I've made the request."

"I am the manager and I don't have time for you, I'm busy."

He pays for his sandwich, takes the bag, and that's it. Normally, I'd think the whole exchange to be poor business on their end. But I like her kiss-my-ass attitude. And I know this much: prosciutto and capers will never be on the menu. And the guy will be back. It is what it is.

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