Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marx Hot Bagels: Love It, or Leave It

Dexter Visits with a Customer While John Marx Takes an Order
     Marx Hot Bagels has seen some changes through the years since it first opened its doors in 1969.  Growing to four stores at one point, the operation now focuses on one storefront in Blue Ash.  Carole, Karen, and I stopped by for lunch recently and couldn’t help but notice that the place was
lacking the spirit it once had.  So what’s happened to the bagel business over the years?  I have a couple of theories.

      John Marx, the owner, is as blatant as they come.  His outrageous personality, from wearing a superhero costume to insulting his customers, has driven more than a few to other bagel shops.  Some find him charming (which he really is), or just plain unpredictable.  Dining with an edge is just not for some people.  

Last Year's
More Generous Portion
of Tuna and Egg Salad
      We spent a little too long at the counter placing our order that day.  It was obvious we had a newbie and he wasn’t up to speed yet.  That can happen.  But there also was a noticeable downsizing of the actual bagel and fillings, of which we had either the delectable egg salad or the equally creamy tuna salad.  Both are made with shredded carrots and very little mayonnaise.  

Tuna Salad Sandwich
      Carole said her bagel tasted like it had everything in it and that pleased her.  I asked if that was because it was indeed an everything bagel and she confirmed it was.  My sourdough bagel was a little too chewy.  Marx makes theirs New York boiled style, so if you've gotten used to the softer side of bagels like those at Panera, then theirs are likely not going to measure up to the more Midwestern recipe.  The popularity in recent years of Panera especially has definitely impacted Marx's business.  
The Bagel Options at Marx
Variety is key at both of these types of bagel shops, but where Marx emphasizes the bagel choices (there are around 30 daily), the others offer more in sandwich, salad and soup selections.

      I thought about getting Eric a Black & White Cookie to go, but they hadn't baked any that day.  Still wanting something sweet, I chose the Raisin Oat Bran Cookie that was plump and dense with lots of flavor packed into a small space.  The Apricot Hamantaschen that I also ordered was flat in taste and much too dry.   

Marx Celebrates Its NYC Ancestry
      There's also a difference in the interiors of the restaurants. Panera and its competitors tend to be sleek and up-to-date with their furnishings, while Marx has maintained a retro diner look of an authentic New York deli.

      All-in-all, it comes down to what your preferences are.  It's not that one is better than the other, it's just what your personal choice has become over time.

Marx Hot Bagels on Urbanspoon

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