I recently went to a small town to get away from the hustle and bustle.  I enjoy the mentality and laid back atmosphere that small towns have to offer.  I enjoy seeing friendly people who welcome you and who are proud of what their town has to offer. It’s a great way to get back to basics and see what life was like before traffic, high rises computers and cell phones.

I woke up in the middle of this gorgeous and “world-renowned” town, got up and wanted a nice hot latte that didn’t come from any chain that named their employees baristas or team leaders etc… so I walked into a small and simple, privately owned coffee shop to enjoy a nice and relaxing breakfast.

This is what went down…

First upon entering I saw the owner, a frazzled and disoriented woman, running back and forth in what seemed like a frantic scramble as if she had just received 20 orders at once. Aside from me, my wife and son the place was empty. When I got closer to the counter I realized that there was an infant, approx. 14-19 months old, sitting in a high chair by the sink; odd, but hey, it’s a small town and maybe she had babysitting issues, maybe she WAS the babysitter or maybe she brought her daughter to work all the time and the locals loved her for it, who knows?

I looked on the wall for the menu and saw that this establishment made all sorts of bagels with tomato slices, cream cheese, peanut butter and even, my favourite, the classic with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers and red onion slices, YUMMY!!  Even though this classic bagel came at a price of $9.00 I ordered it, my wife did as well and our son went with plain ol’cream cheese on a plain ol’bagel.  We also ordered two lattes to kick start our brains into function mode.

The owner immediately went to work, she went to the sink, pulled out the mop and started caring for her floors…  Huh?  Her child was starting to yell, the mop was dripping wet and we, the customer stood there wondering what was going on.  Once the floors were clean, the owner went to make our lattes, she took two big cups, made the lattes and filled up both cups, half way, served them on the counter with a smile as if she had given them to us for free.

As she hurried back to the counter to start making our bagels I went to the cream and sugar bar. My wife likes a touch of honey in her morning latte so I thought I’d do that for her.  I was happy to see that this locale offered organic honey.  I added a touch and then looked for a spoon to stir. Nothing.  No spoon, so I looked for a swizzle stick, what I found was dried linguini pasta all stacked in one little cup. Was this a sign of cut backs or an organic alternative to save the trees? I found a fork, turned it upside down and stirred in the honey.  We sat patiently sipping our drinks, waiting for the food to come.  20 minutes had passed, we were still the only ones there, our lattes were done, our child screaming and the local paper completely read when we heard her yell, “ONE PLAIN BAGEL WITH CREAM CHEESE!” WOW! Our son was about to eat, yay!!  We still had to wait for our classics but when they were ready, I was summoned to the counter and as she gave them to me, all wrapped up in paper, she said this, “I know they are for here but I don’t have any clean plates, just haven’t had time” smirked and walked away.  Another wow!  Anyways we were so hungry that we were just looking forward to that first bite. Wait a minute, the bagel is huge, nothing like the real thing from Montreal, there is hardly any cream cheese on it, maybe 2 capers and some cut up red onion but here is the best part, one small slice of smoked salmon for the entire thing!! When you’re hungry, you’ll eat just about anything, so we sucked it up and ate our classic bagels with empty coffee cups and a son who was done his meal and raring to explore some more.

At this somber point our friend the owner saw someone out side her establishment and without thinking twice yelled, “HAL! YOU GOT 20 MINUTES TO GET BACK HERE!!” Now she didn’t yell this from the doorway, no, she yelled if from the kitchen.  I almost spat out my dry mouthful of nothing on an everything bagel.

Although I always try to support our local owner, I sometimes forget to follow my own advice, speak up if it isn’t what you expected, you’re better off making it at home and if the place is empty, there is a reason for it.

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