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Bodega Convenience Store & Cafe new downtown fav

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Pizza by the slice is hot and fresh at The Bodega.

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Christina Ruotolo
Hot Dish

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Downtown Greenville has been growing in leaps and bounds over the last five years and there is no sign it’s stopping anytime soon. You can find shiny, new high-rise student housing, fun clubs, bars, restaurants and everything in-between, all within a mile of ECU’s campus. The Bodega Convenience Store & Cafe is nestled under The Boundary at West End, 250 Reade Circle, Suite 115, in the heart of downtown Greenville.

Bodegas are named for community grocery stores typically found in urban areas. Cafe owner Keith Frizzell is your bodega buddy, welcoming all patrons with a warm and infectious greeting popular among ECU student crowds and downtown patrons that work in and around the store. You can run in for a quick pit-stop, get what you need and be on your way with ease and comfort every time. Keith says they focus on making products accessible and offers all the items you may need in a pinch. “Our tagline says it all ‘We put the convenience back into convenience store.’”

The Bodega in Greenville sells snacks, beer, wine, groceries and offers house-made food as well. They have a few tables outside overlooking downtown and inside there is a 25-seat capacity consisting of tables and a high-bar seating area. All of this overlooks a clean and meticulously organized grocery section and an open prep-kitchen.

The left side of the welcoming store has everything you need to make life convenient, hence the word “convenience store.” It has over 3,000 items including a wide selection of import, domestic and craft beer, energy drinks in all sizes and flavors, caffeinated and non-caffeinated cold drinks, sparkling, red, white, and sweet wines, as well a variety of cocktail mixers.

It also offers grocery items including canned goods, soups, a variety of salty and sweet treats such as granola and energy bars, cookies, chips and even car supplies such as Fix-a-Flat and motor oil.

Now about the sweet part I was just talking about. You may not know, but I am a huge candy aficionado. I love it all from gummy bears, to Red Hots, to Laffy Taffy. And boy, does the Bodega have your candy tooth (aka teeth) covered.

The candy lovers section is front and center and spans one whole side with shiny red bags of childhood favorites oozing with nostalgia. No matter what sweet you crave, they probably have it from Bit O’Honey, cinnamon disks, atomic fire balls, lemon drops, sour bears, gummy bears and one of my all-time favorites, Fun-Dip. They also sell chocolate in all its glory from popular favorites like M&Ms and Snickers as well as two of my favorites, Payday peanut bars, and Zero candy bars.

Have I taken you back to your childhood yet? And I haven’t even told you about the cafe and food part. So let’s have some food. Their menu features traditional and non-frilly classics including pizza, wings (boneless and traditional), sandwiches and sides. Enjoy hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, onions rings as well as breakfast favorites like bacon or sausage egg and cheese bagels. Prices are super affordable too. For vegetarians, they also offer salads with sliced onions, green peppers, croutons, and shredded cheese.

For my food tasting, I went straight for the fried goodness, eating up some fried mozzarella sticks. Who doesn’t love cheese wrapped by a crunchy crust? It was crispy on the outside with gooey, stretchy white cheese and oh so yummy. You can get six mozzarella sticks with a dipping sauce of your choice for $2.99. Here is something I like about eating in a cafe that sits next to a grocery store: You get to people-watch. The Bodega has a great energy and reminds me of the cafe & delis that line the streets of downtown New York City. I even loved watching all the students come in and out picking up a snack, pizza or drink with their 40-pound book-bags making them look like they are about to climb Mount Everest instead of headed to class.

Let’s move onto chicken wings. I sampled both the bone-in barbecue chicken wings and the boneless plain wings. The bone-in wings have a great crispy outside and tender chicken inside with a nice finger slathering barbecue sauce. You can tell when you get good barbecue chicken wings by the smeared barbecue sauce on your chin and your cheek and elbow too. If you want to go downtown to a bar or night club partaking in a multitude of adult beverages and don’t feel like going home for a while, head over to the Bodega and eat some wings and enjoy a few more hours of adult fun in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere while waiting for your Uber to arrive. You can order wings in increments of five, 10 or 20.

If you crave breakfast anytime of the day or late at night, you have to try the bacon, egg and cheese, or the sausage, egg and cheese bagel. This was delicious. Savory sausage nestled between two slices of cheddar cheese, fluffy eggs, all between a beautiful grilled bagel that had the perfect bagel chew. These are their top seller and the Bodega sells an average of 100 bagel sandwiches a day. They are only $2.99 and their BOGO item, so you get two for the price of one. Now that makes for a perfect mid-morning protein packed snack to make sure to can stay awake to crunch numbers!

The pizza was just as delicious with a super thin and crispy crust and a multitude of toppings to choose from. Grab one or a few and have a pizza party sitting outside and enjoying the great fall weather that I really hope comes soon and enjoy some more people watching.

Here is the best part, The Bodega will deliver food and groceries to you if you work or live within a mile of the store for a $2.99 delivery fee. They can deliver your order within 30 minutes, which is awesome for busy downtown workers and students who can’t get away from studying. They have clean restrooms, an ATM inside which makes it super safe for late-night money runs, and they accept Pirate Bounty Bucks.

For those concerned about how they card, they have an effective way to ensure precautions are taken when delivering wine and beer. They use the wecard.com system to verify age and the credit card and Id have to match. They also don’t sell any vaping or e-cigarette products opting to not support this in their store.

The Bodega Convenience Store & cafe is open Monday-Wednesday 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 8 a.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Their website will be coming soon, so for more information, or to place an order, call (919) 264-6120.

TID BITS

Eat 23 Cafe, 2516 East 10th St., held its grand opening on Wednesday. They will be kicking off a "Pancakes for a Cure" campaign for the month of October, donating a percentage of all pancake sales to a local charity that supports cancer research and survivors. They will also be attempting to "pink out" the restaurant windows with pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness Month! For a donation of $1 guests will be able to write a message on a pink ribbon and they will place it in the windows for the month. The business also is offering Choco bars, the world's spiciest mini chocolate bar, as part of the The Choco Challenge. For every box purchased the manufacturer, Fuego Box, donates $5 to prostate cancer research. Hours of operation are​ Monday-Sunday 7 a.m. 3 p.m. For more information, call (252) 364-1919.

First Watch Cafe is now open in Greenville. The restaurant is located at 610 S.E. Greenville Blvd., Suite 100. It features breakfast and brunch options with everything made fresh to order. Hours of operation are Monday-Sunday 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. For more information call 252-582-5677 or visit www.firstwatch.com.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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