Tuesday, July 29, 2008


There has been a change in the local Breakfast Dynamic in the past few weeks. Goldberg’s, a local chain of bagel shops, has opened an outpost nearby - just down Johnson Ferry road from Bagelicious, AKA the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium.

While our little corner of East Cobb County is not exactly crawling with restaurants, there’s no shortage of places to grab a bite for breakfast. There are the usual chain operations: Einstein Bros. Bagels, Dunkin’ Donuts, IHOP, La Madeleine, Waffle House, etc., etc. There’s J. Christopher’s and the Flying Biscuit Cafe, two more chains, albeit ones that originated in Atlanta.

Some of these places sell bagels. Or what passes for bagels, anyway. Anyone familiar with the Real Thing knows a genuine bagel from an Einstein Bros. impostor. When it comes to the Real Thing, the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium - Bagelicious - was the only game in town. This part of town, anyway.

And then there’s the matter of the Smoked Fish. If you wanted real Nova Scotia smoked salmon... belly lox... sable... kippered salmon... whitefish... there was only one place to go. If you had a jones for a hot pastrami and corned beef sandwich and didn’t want to drive down into Sandy Springs, there was only one option.

So what if the coffee was - is - hit or miss? So what if the place is a little down-at-the-heels in appearance, with every square inch of wall space covered in Yankees memorabilia or banners and photos of local Little League, soccer, and Pop Warner teams? It may not pass muster with the frou-frou Interior Decorator crowd, but in what other restaurant could you see Gravel-Voice Larry’s walking stick hanging on the wall, mute testament to his prodigious abilities as a Fish-Maven?

Now here comes the New Kid on the Block.

Goldberg’s, it should be pointed out, is “new” only in the sense of “new to this area.” They’re a venerable operation. Back when we first moved here in the early 1980’s, Goldberg’s was where you went if you wanted real New York-style bagels...or smoked fish. You had to drive fifteen miles to get there, but they were the only option.

For years, Goldberg’s was in no hurry to move to East Cobb. Now they’re here in full force, and the Local Bagel Emporium is scared shitless, facing the first straight-up competitive battle of their life. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Bagel versus bagel. Bialy versus bialy.

The newcomer’s place is big, glitzy, staffed with an army of servitors. It’s decorated with three-dimensional dioramae illustrating scenes from popular Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. It’s spotless. It’s bustling. It’s expensive. And on Sundays, it’s packed with the local church crowd, fresh from the Matinée Service.

You can get a bagel with excellent smoked fish. Or you can get shrimp and grits. [Which means the new place will not be catering any functions at our synagogue.] You can get baked goods, deli takeout, all kinds of beverages. You can even use credit cards. It’s Full Service!

But you won’t find everything at the New Place.

You won’t find the guys playing Liar’s Poker with Tommy, the owner of the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium. You won’t find too many banners on the walls, emblazoned with the names of the local softball team. You won’t find pictures of Mickey Mantle or Yogi Berra. You won’t find a whole lot of haimishkeit.

And, except on rare occasions, you won’t find me there either.

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