---------------------------- I had a craptacular, five-day weekend of work and came home in a funk last night. Even the Four Roses was sad. I slept well, though, and didn't have anything pressing this morning, so for the first time in over a year, I got on my bike and rode through Forest Park. My knees have been an issue for months, but I'm back in shape now. I will never be 100%, but I felt fine continuing my ride to University City for lunch at the U-City Grill.
It is just past noon and surprisingly, the place is empty, except for Hyo, who puts the "man" in this one-man show. He owns the place. He takes your order, he prepares and cooks your food. He puts it in front of you and he cashes you out when you are finished.
Fine with me. I'm fucking hungry. I order bibimbap with an extra egg and hot sauce and Hyo goes to work, chopping vegetables and dropping two eggs on the grill as another customer walks in and sits at the counter next to me, a couple stools down.
There are delivery truck drivers and passers by making banter with the porter from the bar next door. No piped in music at this diner but that type of street life.
The bowl of bibimbap arrives quickly and I go to work. Anyone who knows me, knows that I like to eat out of a bowl. Soups and stews, sure, but also noodles and pho and homemade concoctions featuring brown rice, seasoned veggies and eggs on a bed of spinach with lots of hot sauce. Bibimbap is my kinda dish.
I was about halfway through my fast-breaking lunch when someone trips in through the open door over my right shoulder. It is some pinhead holding a gift bag. He sits at the counter. His partner is staring into his cellphone and carrying a backpack.
"Hello", Hyo offers.
"Hi! Um, I read all the reviews of your place here!"
"Yeah, I don't know."
"You don't read them?"
"You are the owner, though?"
"What's your name?"
Hyo is preparing food, moving back in forth between a bowl, a pot of rice, the grill and some chopped vegetables.
"Oh, O.K. Well, I'm from LIVING SOCIAL. We do promotions for restaurants and stuff like that. Is there a better time that I could come by to talk to you when it is not lunch."
Hyo peaks down into the dainty little gift bag sitting on the counter.
"Sure, but you know we don't do any sort of online promotion. We don't even take credit cards."
"There's no computer in the store."
"Do you have a smart phone?"
"No. I am anti-technology."
"Oh, heh, well can I come by and talk to you sometime when it is not lunch?"
"All right. Have a good day!"
The hucksters shuffled out and a relative quiet returned. My heart is grinning.
Ninety feet off of Delmar Boulevard, a breeze blows through the door and a beer truck runs up on the sidewalk.