November 6, 1997
A Plea From a Kneady Noah's Fan
By Judy Gruen
The news hit me as hard as a stale mandlebrot: Noah's Bagels wasgoing treif. They were abandoning us, tossing aside Los Angeles'loyal kosher consumers like so many day-old minis.
For two years, we've enjoyed a carbohydrate high -- any of a dozenflavors of big, fat, chewy bagels, ours for the asking. But the bestpart was that the little "old New York" style restaurants werekosher. Affixed to the doors were not only mezuzot but signs thatpolitely asked customers not to bring in any outside food or drink.Even in Santa Monica, just about a mile from my home, finding akosher place to sit and share rye observations with our friends wasalmost as easy as finding a body-piercing parlor. Almost.
And the ambiance! The photo gallery of haimesh images, from theNoah's crew at the "holeiest" place on Earth -- the Western Wall ofJerusalem -- to the winners of the 1982 Yiddish grandma contest, tothe triumphant pose of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, while listening tothe crew members shouting "Hot Plain!" as they hoisted steaming traysout of the oven, somehow made the sweetest cinnamon raisin bageltaste even sweeter.
When I recovered from the stinging news, I indulged in amultigrain of emotions. "They're meshuga nuts!" I exclaimed to myfriend Harry, who had the sorry task of telling me.
"No, they feel it's good for business," Harry said. "But don'tworry. You still have about two weeks left."
Then I became boiling mad. Speaking plainly and, since it was ErevYom Kippur, controlling my urge to use salty language, I told Harrythat I wouldn't give a pumpered nickel for Noah's future. Who wouldstep up and fill this gastronomic hole in kosher Los Angeles? Howlong would we remain in a pickle? I became berry blue as I recalledall the truckloads of bagels and challahs my family had consumedsince Noah's fortuitous opening on Main Street two years ago.Spending at Noah's had taken an ever larger bite in our budget, andnow, to have the rugelach pulled out from under us!
I know it's naïve to expect anything like loyalty from bigbusiness -- especially when it has decided which side its bagel'sbuttered on. I'll try mightily not to carry a chocolate chip on myshoulder over this betrayal and will try to push away nasty thoughtsthat keep poppying up, such as that I hope Noah's earns babkas fromthe new, treif enterprise.
Then I heard a hot rumor wafting over the Noah's at Pico andBeverwil: that the barrage of phone calls that the corporatedoughboys were getting on their schmooze line, from die-hardcranberry-orange lovers (their only truly bad flavor) to spicyjalapeno fans, was making them rethink this half-baked scheme, atleast on "kosher alley" and a few other locations.
But, now, Noah's is running full-page ads in the Jewish paperswith alarmingly light assurances that, hey, at least they're keepingtheir bagel dough and cream cheese kosher. Sorry, I'm not impressed.
Listen, Noah's: I know you have a responsibility to bialy that youcan be to your shareholders. But, oy vey shmear! Just because theDodgers abandoned Brooklyn doesn't mean you have to abandon yourloyal kosher consumers. I'll make you a great lunch deal: Go aheadand add anything you want to the menu at most of your locations. I'llgive you San Dimas, Pasadena, heck, take the whole wheat San GabrielValley. I'll throw in Ventura County, Thousand Oaks and Burbank. But,please, leave West Los Angeles and Main Street (Santa Monica) orMarina del Rey alone!
Dare I allow my hopes to rise? Or will we soon see under theglass, God forbid, sliced roast beef hovering next to the lightvegetable shmear?
Please, Noah's, when it comes to your kashrut in Los Angeles,please say "for here" and not "to go."
Judy R. Gruen, a salted-everything bagel aficionado, writesfrom Venice.