The Cavalier Daily
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Waiting for Bodo

"Where's Bodot, I thought you said he was coming."

"He is."




"Coming." It has been a familiar word on the Corner District, where Charlottesville's third Bodo's Bagel shop officially has been "coming" for over five years.

Six classes have arrived on Grounds, two classes have walked down the Lawn, the Corner got a Starbucks and Scott Stadium got HooVision. But still, no Bodo's.

It's gotten to the point where joking about its opening has become an unofficial part of University tradition.

"I heard he was crazy, but I don't know," said fourth-year Engineering student Jon Goodall of Bodo's owner, Brian Fox.

But Fox is no crazy man. He's just ... thorough.

"I am slow. I'm very deliberate and methodical," said the self-described "goofy kind of guy."

But people are getting impatient.

And they're threatening to boycott.

Adam Cohen, a fourth-year College graduate student, founded the Boycott Bodo's Coordinating Committee in July 1999 in response to the shop's slow opening.

"I think Brian sees it as a hobby of his, and he's doing well enough he doesn't have to open," Cohen said.

But despite the pressure from hungry bagel lovers, Fox insists it always takes an incredible amount of time to open a new restaurant.

And he knows, since he's been in the business for over 20 years. Originally from Vermont, where he owned a fancy French restaurant, Fox and his wife moved to Charlottesville 13 years ago for a change of pace. They were tired of the cold and of running an upscale restaurant, and they had a vision for a simple, fast and cheap restaurant where "the most important thing was that it was casual."

Enter the idea for a bagel bakery -- Charlottesville's first.

He christened it Bodo's after an employee at his old French restaurant -- a University of Vermont student whose parents were from Eastern Europe.

"Apparently it's a common name over there," he said.

In 1988, Fox bought an old Roy Rogers on Route 29 for his new creation. The previous owners said he would never make it.

They were right. Kind of.

"It took a week or two," Fox chuckled, before the crowds were packing in to capacity. Ever since, it has been a sensation.

"People are more health conscious now," Charlottesville Revenue Commissioner Lee Richards said of Bodo's success.

In 1993, Fox took over an old Preston Avenue restaurant called Rax and converted it into another Bodo's, the second in Charlottesville.

With the first and second Bodo's doing so well, Fox set his sights on the student-dense Corner District.

In August 1995, he put up the first "Coming Here" sign, and since then it's been an emotional roller-coaster for the students who wonder when it really is coming.

Some say Fox displayed a "Coming Soon" sign expressly to tease and torment the community, but Fox said with confidence that there was never a sign that said "Soon."

"'Coming Here' and 'Coming, Promise,' but never a 'Coming Soon' sign," he said.

Besides, when Fox does a job, he wants to do it right. This means close attention to detail.

"I design and build my businesses," he explained. Most of the work he does himself, and he has learned from past experience it is best to do things correctly the first time.

This Bodo's looks different from the other shops -- this will not be standard fast food fare. This Bodo's has a darker interior, complemented by vibrant, hand-painted murals by Fox's daughter, an artist living in Berlin. There are new register systems for faster service and easier-to-read, homemade menu display boards.

Fox also has to deal with the other two Bodo's locations, leaving him little time to work on the Corner shop.

He must keep the other two Bodo's running while focusing his attention on his 90 employees, and he has had less help on this project than on the others.

Personal matters contributed to the delay as well. Fox said getting divorced two years ago "really took the wind out of my sails" and that he has had to deal with periods of major adjustments. Above all, Fox explained, "I just want to get it right."

He expects this store's hours to be 7:30 a.m. until the hour when people start to drink, because he finds "drunken behavior intolerable."

Everything is finished; he just needs to hire about 40 or 50 people. He said he will open as quietly as possible, with no advertising.

Since 1995, when Bodo's first made plans to grace the University Corner District, a lot has happened.

Starbucks on the Corner in 1998.

Harris Teeter, Old Navy and Banana Republic at the Barracks Road shopping center.

Cauthen House opens in 1997 (it took 12 months to build), a new Clemons Media Center in 1999 and Scott Stadium expands in 2000.

All this change and still no Corner Bodo's.

But according to Fox, it looks like the wait finally may be over. Get ready for more lines and good bagels. First years, consider yourselves lucky.

But as always, there are skeptics.

"I'm willing to bet money that it won't be open by the time I graduate," fourth-year College student Brennan Breed said.

But when it does open, morning bagel stops before class can become a new University tradition.


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