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Wow! Powerful story! My reverent attitude toward bagels feels justified.

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LOL that is great. Thank you CCS!

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MINE TOO!

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I taught in Singapore for a few summers while in graduate school, and I can tell you, their state-run ads are no joke! I'm going to have to search deep in my camera roll to find some of the photos I took. I remember one with a gorilla and a slogan that was something like "don't make trouble."

And the bagel roller is just as charming and fascinating as I'd hoped he'd be. Love all the pictures and this inside look into how NY's favorite food gets made.

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Thanks Jillian!

And interesting to learn that Singapore state ads are a THING. Would love to learn more...

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The reveal of Alex Baka already having a Thai restaurant of his own was such a plot twist. And wow, he really does move fast in that video. That Singapore Police Force image looks like a poster for some TV show.

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Haha, happy to hear you had the same reaction I did about the restaurant reveal William!

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How did I miss last week’s post and poll! 😩 I’d vote Hermit with the fresh air and roaming, but, alas, I am too late….

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Your vote still matters Jolene!

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Thank you, Anne! 🥲 (happy tear)

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Lovely story. Papa Baka makes babies like he makes bagels!

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First the bagel shop! Otherwise where will the kids work?

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Feb 28, 2023·edited Feb 28, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

Hi Anne, I am one of your overseas readers and visited NYC quite a few times (I am old 😉) and love your newsletter (as you know - but now I finally decided to create a log in so I could post here instead of sending you mails - extra work for you!).

Anyway.......

I was totally flabbergasted by the bagel guy. The amount of work hours, the production, the way he spends his only day not rolling bagels! (indeed - what a surprising twist!) - man, this is what I would call ambition and an immense drive. I do feel totally lazy and unambitious now.

But what I really wanted to say was that I lived in the US in the nineties and in the Netherlands bagels didn't (really) exist yet. So after my stint in Cleveland, Ohio (yes, you can get great bagels there as well), I really had to "detox". I missed my American bagels!!!

The last time I visited NYC was in May 2022, after about 12 years of absence. And I was shocked that downtown Manhattan was now filled with European chains like Pret a Manger and Le Pain Quotidien, instead of all those yummy small delicatessen stores (did I remember this incorrectly...?) where I would ogle the bagels in the window, since I would usually eat one for breakfast but since I wasn't used to the half a pound ;-) of cream cheese they would "schmear" it with, I usually couldn't eat anything else for the rest of the day. Luckily I was staying in Queens! (first time ever in that part of town, and I managed to find bagels there). But I really did wonder what happened to all the bagel places and if people somehow thought they had become too unhealthy and therefore now only lunched after buying an expensive quinoa kale salad from Whole Foods.

(I promise I will keep future reactions shorter!)

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Interesting to read about the change you saw after 12 years away, Annoesjka. There are for sure a lot of chains here in NYC but I also feel the city is holding its own on the mom and pop front, at least compared to most towns. The Center for Urban Planning does an annual survey, "State of the Chains" and they find that year after year, a lot of new chain stores open here in NYC, but a similar number close, so the net is roughy the same. I find that very comforting. During the pandemic, especially, a lot of chain locations closed and many seem to have been replaced with locally owned stores and restaurants, which is so great to see. In my neighborhood, the Le Pain closed and was replaced by a locally owned place serving Georgian (as in Eurasian) fare. So that's cool.

As for bagels, I can easily eat a whole bagel with a half schmear, and then another one! With a coca cola! So good. But in truth I maybe indulge just a few times a year.

Thanks for commenting it's great to have you here!

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Feb 28, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

This all sounds hopeful! Thank you for the info about the closures too, and your impression of things in this respect. And do enjoy the Eurasian place 😋. And if I were you, please indulge at least 6 times a year. 😉 If I ever get back to NYC again, I will pay extra attention to the mom-and-pop places. And visit Brooklyn more extensively too. (There was no time for that now, and Queens/Astoria was already such a discovery.)

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Great edition Anne.

I missed the hermit quiz last week but I’d definitely go for hermit. The alternative sounds so claustrophobic!

I do wonder whether there’s a case for taking some time out every now and then to go on an adventure alone. I have a friend who is going on a yoga retreat on her own (with strangers mind). Sounds great!

https://neverstoplearning1.substack.com

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Weren't there many cultures that require some sort of solo journey before one was considered an adult member of society? I bet there is something to that. I wonder if yoga retreats count, haha.

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I think you’re right yeah.

I reckon yoga retreats count!

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As an Australian who has only recently discovered the joy of bagels, I am now addicted. I have them for breakfast every morning. And it seems it's all I talk about now, because I just had a chat in the comments of BAT about this. Where I just found out about lox (no thank you) and egg bagles (yes please!). Thank you for profile impressive and awesome every day people. I prefer your style of news to the other BS by A LOT!!

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Oh thank you Medha!

I am with you on the lox thing except for a few years ago I was introduced to PASTRAMI LOX. With capers, red onion and tomato on an everything bagel. OMG OMG OMG.

I am envious you are eating bagels every morning, but proud of you, too. :)

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*takes a bow*

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

“2) It is the PERFECT excuse for turning stuff down. "Sounds great but I CAN'T because I'm in a small room built into a church FOR LIFE. Tell the Cirque de Soleil performers I think they're VERY talented." OMG, Aharon hit it out of the park with that one!!!

“…a special page devoted to “Police Day” —though isn’t every day Police Day in Singapore?... It almost makes me feel grateful for the prosaic tone of the NYPD home page, which is currently advertising for school crossing guards…” We never appreciate how good we have it!!

“An hour in, he cranked up the music (pop, reggaeton) to get motivated and started rolling.” It is comforting to realize that the day begins the same way across the spectrum, from Neurosurgeons to prolific Bagel-Rollers!

"Do you ever go outside during your shift?" I asked. “No,” he said, "it's like you're in jail! Sometimes I call my wife, my dad, my mom. My bosses come down and talk to me, so there's some interaction throughout the day, but mostly I'm here alone." MY GAWD, ANNE!! Alex is a bagel-rolling ANCHORITE!!

“After earning a three-year college degree in business administration, he moved right back to Woodside, Queens and landed a job at a bagel shop in Astoria—” Which confirms the advice I gave both of my sons in junior high…YOU DON’T NEED TO GO TO COLLEGE, especially for 4 or more years…you can get a two-year degree or learn a trade (one son is making over $100,000/year on a two year degree as a Power Plant Operator, while not having a PhD and seating people at Cheesecake Factory while carrying $300,000 in school loans; and the youngest, while making a bit less, is VERY FULFILLED as an in-demand, highly skilled, welder, who has job security for the rest of his life…just like Alex has! Neither are anchorites.

"What?" I said. "On top of working 100 hours a week as a bagel roller, you own a Thai restaurant?" WOW!!! Gawd bless him!!!

"Was that the first time you met her?" I asked. “When you got married?" "The day I gave her the ring!" he said…” Of course a story: When I was in 8th grade, my mother’s father, an immigrant from Romania (really Macedonia…I carry the genes of Alexander the Great..I’m sure of it, LOL!!), called our house, I picked up the phone and he told me that he had arranged a marriage for me with the daughter of a Greek businessman, whom he worked for…I told him, “But Tutta, I’m only in 8th grade!” and he said it didn’t matter because we’d be married when I turned 16, so I had time to sow my wild oats…Since the divorce rate in this country is over 60%, (and I’m divorced from my 1st wife), I for one think Alex in onto something! His wife is stunning!

“We gazed at my sorry-looking initial efforts.” Anne they’ll look better boiled and baked! Did you ever see a newborn? My oldest looked like E.T. when he arrived.

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JRB!

It did not occur to that surgeons and bagel rollers both need to crank the tunes while they work. But from what I know, both jobs can be quite repetitive (esp. cardiac surgery!) and require a lot of focus. So it totally makes sense!

And I love the idea of Alex as a bagel-rolling anchorite. He does not have a window, but he does have an iPhone.

Alex sent me a picture of one of my bagels that he baked and you're right. It looks pretty good! Maybe I'll include a photo in my next letter.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

I know it’s just a typo but the Latin American country is Colombia not Columbia which is a river that separates Oregon from Washington.

Really enjoyed reading about Mr Baka’s life; his success is ensured!

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Thank you Terri. Fixed! And I agree. Alex is going to do really great. I can't wait to attend the grand opening of his bagel shop!

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How does the Ivy League University spell it!! They wanted my son to play football, out of high school, and so did Dartmouth, Davidson, Kenyon and Denison. But, alas, spending his high school years being a "Party-Catalyst" and scoring touchdowns leads to scoring 2100 on your ACT!!!

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

Alex Baka!!! I think I know him from GC. Great profile!

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Thanks Laura! What is GC? Google suggests the gene that encodes the vitamin D-binding protein also known as gc-globulin but that is probably not what you are referring to.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

Haha my bad! I meant Garden City, where I taught for nearly two decades. I somehow forgot that those outside the burg refer to it by its full name. But thanks, I learned something new!

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

Fantastic interview, Anne, as usual! Alex is a powerhouse! I started getting a craving for bagels, and I don’t even particularly like them (don’t tell Alex). Your interviews and writing style remind me of Susan Orlean, but you have a much more robust sense of humor. How about publishing a book of some of your newsletter posts? I would also like to read more about you and your background—maybe someone could interview you? Have a great week!

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Awww you're so kind Jill and I think these are all great ideas, haha. The CAFÉ ANNE coffee table book of best newsletter posts could feature an interview of me by Susan Orlean and be housed in the CAFÉ ANNE presidential library.

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Yes! Excellent ideas! I really would love to at least read an interview. 😊

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Anne -- so fun as usual. A bagel exposé in the best place for it. Alex was great and someone you just want to root for! The picture you to provided of him was interesting. His wrists are enormous and probably better developed than just about anyone. 3M bagels is just crazy. Kudos to NYers for calling bullshit on the carb craze! Your Dad's comment, correcting and clarifying as only a parent can. Awesome!

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Lol thanks Mark. Yes, CAFÉ ANNE award to Alex Baka for Best Wrist Development!

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Question: So Alex, what is the secret to your workout? Alex: No secret, I just roll 3M bagels a year. Whatever you do to stay in shape you just need enough repetitions.

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I see a chain of bagel shops where you get a bagel rolling workout to work off your bagel breakfast calories!

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I have some family with experience as golf pros. They made me laugh years ago as they said big wrists are a tell for golfers who work at it. Haha. I think the Cafe should rent a warehouse, set up a golf simulator in the back and at the front run a bagel rolling operation -- up to you to coin a clever name :)

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Feb 28, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

Maybe I’ll have my grandchildren read about Alex and get off their asses. Maybe I will also!

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LOL yeah, me too. But likely not.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

Aharon is the best!

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Anne Kadet

I enjoyed reading about Alex, thank you! You know, I think I could probably cut it in Singapore; it sounds a lot like Catholic school (chewing gum is verboten in both places).

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A whole city-state based on Catholic school. So amazing!

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But the police in Singapore, unlike the nuns in Catholic Schools, allow girls to wear patent-leather shoes!!

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