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Restaurants & Bars

Union Bagel Co. - downhill alert

Das Ubergeek | May 31, 200802:42 AM

For the last year or so, I have commuted a varying amount between my home in Anaheim and my office in Burbank. For sanity's sake, I usually take the train, which involves a change of trains at LA Union Station.

Often the Orange County train will arrive several minutes early, as Metrolink have padded the schedule to allow for short delays (red signals, more passengers than normal, failing to ignore Buena Park, &c.) and I go and get a bagel or a bagel breakfast sandwich from the Union Bagel Co. right in the station, across from Traxx.

And for a long time it was staffed by friendly (mostly) people who had an eye for efficiency and had several stations open -- one for coffee and cold pastries only, and two for full orders. You could get in and out and on your connecting train in just a few minutes, even if you ordered the egg sandwiches.

It seems to have been taken over by new people, who have eliminated fully half of the menu. They have one station open during morning peak, which means there are longer lines, and they don't seem to have cash registers wherever these new people are from, or coins, because the change-making process takes an agonisingly long time.

The bagels are still good, even by my New Jersey standards -- they appear to have bought the recipe as well -- but they've often been out, they've cut back the varieties they sell, and I've never yet seen them dump hot bagels into the bin (which, as all who grew up in the gravitational pull of New York City know, refreshes the older bagels underneath), but they don't cook the bacon they use for the sandwiches enough -- even as someone who likes chewy bacon, this is just limp and gross.

The prices have gone up, and I don't find the service at all kind anymore. A small point, given that in New York you're likely to have your bagel flung at you with a grunt so that they can get onto the next A-type commuter, but a change for the worse nevertheless.

And finally, the worst sin of all -- the coffee setup has been moved. It used to be on the counter next to the soda fountain, so that you got your coffee, turned around and took a couple of steps, and put your sugar and milk in or whatever. Now they've moved it through that tiny door to the left of the cash desk and around the corner, so that you're fighting for space trying to get through and past the tables, and once you've got there you can't hear them calling out your bagel order.

Will I still go if I have a moment? Yes. It's still better than the cafe at Fullerton, and it's still better than the cafe at Anaheim (which is nonexistent -- there is no food at Anaheim station). Will I make it a point to go? No.

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