The Westside Cafe & Bakery
The Westside Cafe in Bend, Oregon, is such a fantastic place. I have so many memories built into this restaurant, and even a "personal" belonging that makes me feel as if I have a vested interest in it's success.
It all started back in 1991, when I cashed in on a car accident and bought a house a few places behind the Westside Cafe (asking price? $82,000). The house was a disaster, as were most of the homes back in the day on the west side of Bend. Nonetheless, it was perfect for my best friend and I -- and then for our newest roommate, Chris.
Chris and I had met at Mt.Bachelor, and had snowboarded together almost every day for a few months. He was a habitual sofa surfer that sometimes ended up in our living room. I finally told him to pay up or move on, and so it came to be that he was our "Laundry Boy".
He'd sleep in our laundry room on a roll-a-bed that he had stolen from a local motel, with just enough room to sleep and stand in the same room. His rent? Fifty bucks a month.
The only bathroom in the house was between the two actual bedrooms, and so Chris would have to walk through either my roommate's room or mine to get to it. Both my roommate and I were in the service industry, and we always had our cash tips from the night before just sitting out in plain view. Every morning, Chris would mosey on through one of our rooms to get to the bathroom, and on his way out would wake us up with "Can I have a dollar for a bagel?"
We were usually too annoyed to say no, and he'd swipe a buck (or two) off of our dressers to buy a bagel at the Westside Cafe on his way to hitchhiking up to Mt.Bachelor.
One morning, after a long night of drinking PBR, I got irritated with his cheapness, and said "Chris? Every morning we give you a dollar for your stupid bagel, and you're only paying us fifty bucks for rent! That means that after we pay you a buck every day, you're only really paying twenty bucks to live here, and that a'int cuttin' it! You're such a... a.....
He was named. And "Bagler" he was from there on.
After the offical naming, Bagler began getting creative with the menu at the Westside Cafe. He was pretty friendly with the servers and the cooks, and began creating his own menu items.
See, if you ordered the eggs and cottage potatoes separately it would cost $7. BUT, if he got his favorite server, he'd order the 2 eggs scrambled ($2) and say that he wanted only a few potatoes thrown in, not a whole side. They'd never charge him. Then he asked for some cheese "just lightly sprinkled on top". No problem, they said. Then, "...and maybe some onions for flavor, sweetie" and the gal would just nod and smile.
After a couple of weeks, Bagler was eating a plate full of eggs, potatoes, onions, cheese, peppers and other tasty ingredients for only two bucks a plate! It was ridiculous.
Thus, Bagler began sleeping with the waitress that helped to create this special dish, and all was good on the west side of Bend.
UNTIL --- Bagler, being the bagel-head that he was, started fooling around with the cute brunette from the Westside Tavern just across the street. Westside-Cafe-gal was having none of that, and the next time Bagler went in and tried to order his "usual", she told him "It's on the menu. Right there, see? The HOBO!"
Oh! The way he told the story just brought me to tears! Hysterical! Yes, Bagler was a mooch, and he dressed like a sloppy snowboard bum, so I guess he could quite possibly be mistaken for a hobo. And so a breakfast was named! And it's been on the menu ever since.
Every time I go to the Westside Cafe, I tell the story to whomever I'm dining with, and have a great laugh.
Yet... on a sad note....
A few years back I was in Police Academy, and working my first training shift at the Deschutes County Jail. I was concentrating on being tough, straight-faced, and quiet - which is hard to do being a talkative, friendly-looking gal.
There was this crazy-looking guy who kept waving at me through the plexi-window of his block, trying to get my attention. My Commanding Officer commented, "Looks like you're going to be popular - you've already got a fan club."
The guy looked familiar, so I said, "What's that guy in for?" and he said, "Who? Bagler?"
My jaw dropped, and yes - it was Chris. I was able to talk to him briefly a week later, and he gave me the quick rundown on his eventual slide into drug use and criminal activity. He sounded apologetic, yet I know better. He never got over being that cool, snowboarder guy that jumped from girl to girl. What a bummer.
My last shift during training at the jail, I pulled a few strings and brought him a Hobo breakfast from the Westside Cafe. He smiled and cried at the same time after opening the to-go lid and seeing what was inside. His namesake.
I sure miss Chris - it's "Bagler" I can do without.