Saying Goodbye to the Bay Cafeteria

Many famous writers seek out inspiring environments to fuel their creativity. Hemingway had his home in Old Town Key West. J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter at The Elephant House. And Virginia Woolf had her own room

Me? I had the Bay cafeteria.

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I’ve been going to the Bay cafeteria, officially known as Café Bon Appétit, during my lunch hour to work on my novel for the past four years. It had everything I needed in a muse: it was secluded, there were cubed carrots and it was frequented by more elderly folks than you could shake a breadstick at. 

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Granted, the Bay cafeteria wasn’t the world’s most glamourous locale. The food was so-so at best. The carpet had stains. The light fixtures were furry with dust. But I could usually get a solid 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing done before heading back to the office. 

So imagine my devastation when I went the other day to discover it was closing – in two days time! Hashtag what the hell? How could they do this? And on such short notice? Where was I going to write? 

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Writers can get a little particular when it comes to their writing habits. We think that certain locations have magical powers. But the truth is you can write anywhere. At home, on the subway, on a park bench. It just takes dedication. And maybe some headphones. Oh, and no wifi connection.

But saying goodbye to the Bay cafeteria wasn’t easy. It was my secret place, the retreat where I’d leave the real world behind for my fictional world. One way of dealing with loss is not to mourn what’s gone, but to celebrate what you had. So I'm drying my tears, dear reader, and presenting you with the sparkling majesty that was the Bay cafeteria.

This was my view over many lunch hours. You can see by the number of people why the Bay cafeteria closed. 

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The staff wasn’t always the quickest at cleaning the tables. Take this coffee cup with lipstick on the rim, for example. I bet this lipstick came from a woman named Carol. Or Irene. She likely had a morning glory muffin, as well.

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The ceiling had seen better days. It depresses me when people replace ceiling tiles and don't even try to match them. You can’t slap on some white paint and rub a little mildew on it so it blends in with the others?

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This orchid isn’t real. I suppose that comes as a surprise to no one.

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This track lighting didn’t make the food - or yours truly - look any more appetizing.

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You could get water for free from this fountain at the back. Many people didn’t realize this and would buy bottled water. Me and the elderly folks would raise our plastic glasses, shake our heads and say, “Suckers.”

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I was often inspired by the artwork. Staring at grey flowers is a perfect way to plunge headfirst into the sadness within your soul.

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The Bay cafeteria had its share of mysteries. Why would you run a mirror along the top of a wall? And what’s the deal with the tape? It doesn’t make me feel safe.

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Whoever replaced the ceiling tiles also did the carpets.

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There was usually carrot salad at the salad bar. I can’t say I was a fan, but the elderly seemed to like it. I think it was the raisins.

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I’ve had some decent meals at the Bay cafeteria. Here’s a Thanksgiving special I had back in 2015. Note the cubed carrots. Added bonus: gummy stuffing. 

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Here’s a burger special I had on Valentine’s Day, 2017. Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. 

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And here, sadly, is my final meal at the Bay cafeteria: grilled cheese, fries and coleslaw. True story: when I was a kid, I thought it was called Girl Cheese. Which is, like, a whole other kind of sandwich.

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This is my friend, Jamie. Thankfully, he was with me when I learned the Bay cafeteria was closing. Otherwise, there would’ve been no one there to catch me when I fainted. It was Jamie, in fact, who convinced me to start my Caker Cooking blog way back in 2011, so I think it was only fitting to share my Last Supper with him. And yes, I realize I'm drinking bottled water. But I was afraid the water fountain would be turned off. When I passed a table of elderly folks, they raised their plastic glasses, shook their heads and said, "Sucker."

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And there you have it. Bay cafeteria, you have been my muse, my friend and my escape from the real world. At times, you also made me crampy (that Valentine’s Day burger did a number on me), but you were always there. Until now. 

If anyone needs me, I'll be in my new writing spot.

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