Pig Roast
Everyday Life in SoHo

Wild, Wild West Broadway

Bodega Pig Roast
Pig roast in the lot next to the bodega on West Broadway in the 1970s (photo: Harry Pincus)

I ran into Juan, the guy who used to work at the bodega on West Broadway at Prince, when I was getting pizza the other day at Ben’s.  He said he remembered me, remembered my face as a little girl.  He pretty much looks exactly the same as he did over thirty years ago.  I thought Juan owned the bodega, but he said he just worked there (for 17 years!).  He still lives on West Broadway (for 41 years!) and works as a super in a few buildings in the neighborhood.  And he still doesn’t speak English all too well.   I told him I missed his bodega.

The bodega didn’t have a name, and it really didn’t need one.  Although there were a few bodegas in the area, everyone knew that you meant THAT bodega if you said you were going to stop in to “the bodega” to buy a few things.

I really do miss that bodega.  It was pre M&O, pre-Korean deli on Thompson Street.  It was the only show in town.  I used to catch the P.S.3 school bus there every morning, and in the afternoons there were card games on milk crates on the sidewalk. I once bought a box of instant oatmeal there.  I brought it home, “cooked” it up, and noticed hundreds of little bugs crawling around my bowl.  I think I might have already taken a bite or two.  After that, I wrote my first and only ever consumer complaint letter to Quaker Oats.  I think I was about nine or ten years old.  A few weeks later, I received letter of apology and a coupon for a free box of oatmeal, which I promptly redeemed—guess where?

I recently asked around to see what other folks remembered about the bodega.  The sinful steak sandwiches, the weed they sold behind the counter, and the barbecues.  They used to roast a whole pig in the parking lot next door.  Juan said he quite enjoyed those barbecues and that he would still do them if he could find a good lot.  He also told me that once a woman called the cops to complain about the pig (how ironic).  An officer showed up and asked when the pig would be done.  He returned at the designated hour with a loaf of bread and Juan made him two sandwiches.

So if any of yous want to relive the old days and happen to have a whole pig handy, let me know, and I’ll get ol’Juan on the horn.  FYI, this BBQ will be strictly BYOB (bring your own bread)!

by Yukie Ohta
Aug 13 2011
Related places
Related archival