Anyone who lives or has passed through the Charlottesville area has one recommendation for another newcomber: “You have to go to Bodo’s.” Just the word Bodo’s elicits a Pavlovian response where our mouths start watering and our stomachs start groaning.
My love affair with Bodo’s began before I can remember. After Sunday School when I was in the primary grades, my dad would take me on a father-daughter date to Bodo’s every couple of weeks. Then, the Preston Avenue Bodo’s opened, and it was an every-week deal. Our saying to each other as we pulled into the parking lot was “Let’s beat somebody.” Yes, it was a race to beat that other family that just pulled in. We hate to wait in lines, and Bodo’s is so popular that there is often a line going out the door, even in the worst weather. Thankfully, those lines move quickly.
When I did summer theater with my family, my dad would stop in to the store right around closing, and he would pick up a trash bag full of that day’s leftover bagels. He would buy a few tubs of cream cheese (regular, Neufchatel, and sometimes a flavored one), grab some napkins and knives, and we were good to go! This fed the entire cast, orchestra, and stage crew for a couple of days, and we loved that our green room smelled of bagels. We tried to do this a few years ago, but I believe they now donate those extra bagels to the local shelters.
In high school, during our “early release” (which was actually first thing in the morning), we would take a trip and have Bodo’s for a late breakfast. Once we were allowed to have senior lunch once a week (where we got to go off campus for a lunch), we raced out of the school so that we could get to Bodo’s before the other seniors had a chance. My friends were able to time it perfectly: park our cars close to the door of our last class so we could rush out of there. If we could leave a couple of minutes early, we did it. I just felt sorry for the other customers that happened to come during our senior lunch time. They didn’t stand a chance with all of us flocking to our favorite hangout.
Even now, as adults, Tim and I cannot ignore our love for these bagels. We will go to C’ville to visit our families, but we make sure to have a built-in stop to pick up a dozen plain and everything bagels for the freezer. Frozen, thawed, and then toasted Bodo’s don’t taste the same as fresh Bodo’s, but beggers can’t be choosers. We will take our Bodo’s however we can get it!
Bodo’s has an incredible history, starting in 1986. Brian Fox, the founder, bought the land/ building of an old Roy Rogers and put up a sign that said “The bagels are coming.” Well, the bagels finally came in 1988. Brian wanted everything to be perfect (and rumor around Charlottesville is that he makes all of the bagel-making machines by hand). Then the old Rax on Preston closed, and he got that space. It took 3 years for that to open. Finally, he rented a space on The Corner. In 1995. It didn’t open until 2005. 10 years later. What a wait!
In 2007, Brian sold the business to his 3 managers, and it is fantastic to say that the business is still the same. The bagels are still delicious, the prices are still cheap, and there is still a line out the door. And don’t even think of trying to get any others open. It won’t happen. They will not become a chain or expand any further. Believe me, many people have tried. I wish we could have one in Richmond (we don’t have any comparable bagel shops), but we will live on our frozen Bodo’s, and we will be happy about it too.
Now, why have I decided to write this Ode to Bodo’s? Well, on Friday night, as I was celebrating my brother’s Rising Star Award, I got to meet the one and only Brian Fox! My parents (who know basically everyone in Charlottesville) said hi to him as we were having dinner on the Downtown Mall. I just had to ask if I could have a picture with him as we were saying goodbye. After all, he created the most well-known institute in Central Virginia (next to Monticello and UVa, of course).
Oh great, now I’m having a craving for a bagel!
Here are some links to more Bodo’s information:
Bodo’s Bagels website
Bodo’s on Yelp.com
Bodo’s on Facebook
Bodo’s on Urbanspoon.com
Bodo’s Cvillepedia.org Page
Waiting for Bodo: Slow and Savvy Wins the Race… If You Ever Finish [The Unauthorized Story] from The Hook, published March 28, 2002
All Things Come…: Ten Years Later, a Corner Bodo’s from The Hook, published June 23, 2005
The Hook’s Annual Manual
Bodo’s on AllMenus.com
Bodo’s on The Bagel Blog
Bodo’s on TripAdvisor.com