Buns in the oven, buns in the chairs

Near Darke
By Hank Nuwer

Thar’s a new business in town, Friends.

It’s the Union City Hometown Coffee on the Indiana side of Stateline.

Word reached us from a neighbor who has taken a part-time job in the shop.

Yes, the folks who operate HomeTown Coffee in Lynn, Ind., have opened a second store.

They have good coffee, our neighbor assured us.

Yawn.

On Saturdays they also serve killer cinnamon buns.

Whoa! Be still my heart.

So, this is my first food review. I was going to review a Made-Rite sandwich. But I tried it and didn’t like it, so no review.

It reminded me of lunch in the seminary with nuns serving warm milk and “mystery meat.”

Gosia warned that if I badmouthed a Made-Rite in this column, the local outraged villagers will storm our castle bearing flaming torches and pitchforks. (Editor’s Note: Yes, they will.)

Nein, Frau Blucher, nein!

Anyway, so there we were, my wife and I, on an early Saturday morning parked out front of Union City Hometown Coffee, 213 North Columbia street.

Gosia went in first, mainly because she’s 15 years younger and doesn’t have a bum knee from a youthful collision at home plate. I dragged behind like a turtle in low gear.

A Union City policeman about as tall as a skyscraper slipped ahead of me in line behind Gosia.

My wife and I started to chat around him. I’m not sure Emily Post and Miss Manners would approve, but we did.

After a minute, the nice officer said to me, “I don’t mind if you cut in line.”

“Thanks,” I said. “My wife comes from Poland, and they shoot people that cut in line.”

Gosia gave us the stinkeye, daring either of us to laugh as I cut in line. “Ha, ha, ha,” she said in the same voice she uses on me at home when she says, “You’re dead.”

Once in place, I looked around. I gave it a four-star review for atmosphere.

The scraped red brick walls carried watercolor art from local artists.

A greasy spoon used to be here with greasy walls and a greasy rug but great greasy hamburgers.

Now, the floor consisted of polished wood. No grease in sight. Everything looked spotless

I checked out the menu board. This is the only minus I found.

Instead of placing the board nearer the door on a bare brick wall, the owners hid it on a side wall behind the counter. You have to be close to the counter to check out food options hand-printed in chalk.

“Hmm, you need a periscope to read the menu,” I muttered to Gosia.

Behind the long counter, five workers took orders and handed over muffins. cinnamon rolls, and cups to fill from the two coffee urns.

Oh, oh. A man with his young son just ordered five buns to go.

“We’re almost out,” a female clerk told him. “I’ll check in the back if we have five.”

I waited, valiantly restraining from biting my nails.

“No problem,” she said. “We have one more tray.”

I relaxed, tension gone. Like a Pavlovian dog, I had attained salvation. Er, I mean, I had attained salivation.

That’s when I noticed nearly all tables were occupied.

Everyone hunched over sweets and java and jabbering. It was sugary Nirvana.

I bargained with Gosia. She would order. I would commandeer the last open table.

She came to the table with a medium roast for me, a plastic glass with a straw for her, and one cinnamon bun.

Whaaa!

“Only one,” I complained. “Did they run out?”

“No, we are going to split it. We’re on the diet.”

“What’s this ‘we’ business?” I grumbled.

“You’re dead.”

I inserted a bite of cinnamon bun square in my choppers. It was frosted heroin for me in a Sweet Treat 12-Step Program.

My attention went to her plastic cup.

“What’s that?” I asked as I licked frosting off my fingers.

“A frappe,” Gosia said, slapping my hand and passing me a napkin.

“Sounds like a bug hitting a windshield.”

She said it was a sweet, iced drink blended with milk and expresso.

“Can I try it?”

Slurp.

Hmm, not too bad. Good, in fact.

Which brings me to the end of my review

Eat your heart out, Starbucks.

Union City Hometown Coffee is tastier than the Evil Tsar of Caffeine. Plus you don’t need an Italian language class to order a grande or Frappuccino.

Plus, the total charge is mucho Lessbucks than Starbucks.

And OK, OK, I’ll give Made-Rite another try. Even if the line of cars backs up from the Greenville store clear to Piqua.

Maybe mystery meat is an acquired taste.

Please, Put down your torches and pitchforks, gentle Villagers.

Hank Nuwer is an author, columnist and playwright. He and wife Gosia live on the Indiana side of the Union City state line. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.