Monday, November 24, 2003

Vive La Tasty of French!

Because I've been watching my carbs and my spending and haven't been temping much (ie, haven't had to be out of the house early enough to necessitate eating breakfast on the subway), I haven't been to Bagel's Plus more than once or twice a month recently. But I know all six of my long-time readers will want an update on the grammatically frustrating transformation of my favorite place for breakfast-on-the-go.

They completed their transition from "Bagel's Plus" to "Bagel's Plus Sports Café" and finally to "New York Sports Café." This pleased me because the dreaded Apostrophe of Doom had gone (strange, all things considered, that it wasn’t “New York Sport's Café”), but it bothered me on the entirely new level that the place itself had not turned into a sports café in any way. True, they added a gigantic TV, on which soccer was often playing (in the morning, which I suppose was due to the time difference between here and countries in which they televise soccer), and they started serving beer, but face facts, kids, this is a corner breakfast place. You've got bagels, a grill, a case of pastries and another of various spreads and deli meats. There's barely two feet between the counter/cases, and the one row of two-top tables along the windows. It's a deli, stop deluding yourselves.

But call it whatever you want, it was a good deli, and they always knew my order, even when I stopped coming as often. Then everything went horribly awry.

I'm not entirely sure what happened, because I haven't had the courage to ask. But suddenly all the people changed. I can only assume they're under new management, and for some reason that meant an entire staff overhaul. Gone are two of the three women who knew my order the moment I walked in the door, as well as the man who always prepared it to perfection. Now I'm greeted by a man of uncertain national origin who seems to be in charge, and while he's friendlier and speaks better English than the man who used to seem to be in charge, he's also kind of an idiot and never seems to recognize me. (I'm not saying he's an idiot because he doesn't recognize me, he's an idiot all on his own.) Adding insult to injury, they never put enough cream cheese on the bagels -- and that's if I'm lucky enough to arrive on a day when they even have lox spread or salt bagels on hand.

The TV is still there, but it’s now usually off. They’ve added a Lotto machine and a window through which you can order things from the street, but they’ve stopped stocking bottled soda (much easier to deal with on the train during rush hour than a can). Curious to see what else had changed, I grabbed a take-out menu today. Though the board on the wall still says "Tasty of French," the paper menu has a section properly titled "A Taste of France," and it's very educational; I had no idea that pancakes and Challah were French. Though they are certainly tasty! On the back of the menu is a heading for "Confectionary Desire," which sounds both dirty and unappetizing, and which includes something phlegmy-sounding called "Ek Mek" (I'm sure I've just offended someone, and if so, I'd love to know what ek mek is!). Under that, the titles "Finger Licking Cakes" and "Finger Licking Pies," which of course make me think of giant desserts running through the streets attacking people's hands.

Most curious of all, the name of the restaurant has changed yet again (they've removed all signage from the actual building, so I only know this from the menu). It's now "Sunnyside Sports Bar Café." Doesn't a sports bar have to have a bar? And, um, sports?

So now they're neither a sports bar nor a good bagel place, and I'm thoroughly disgruntled. On those mornings when I feel the need to break my diet, all I want is the comfort of a good salt bagel with a gigantic slab of cream cheese, and the sweet sweet nectar of Diet Coke. With all the foolish renovation and learning to speak English, they've managed to lose sight of everything that made me love them when I moved to the neighborhood (the very first day, in fact, as I ate a bagel on my stoop while waiting for the movers).

It all just makes me realize that the world will be a much better place when everyone realizes that it revolves around me.

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