Jongewaard’s Bake n Broil is equidistant from the hospital I was born in, and the home I grew up in. A good fact to remember.
This surely made it easy for my mother to eat there three days a week while pregnant with me. Vegetable beef soup was the dish she craved there, and I only asked her recently as to whether she had a hankering for a dish – it’s the dish I always get when I eat there. I’m not sure if there’s an association between her diet and the flavors I crave today, or that it’s just “simply good,” the motto that Bake n Broil has lived by since 1965, when the café and bakery was founded by Roger and Carol Jongewaard.
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I was born at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. The Bake n Broil family became a support group of sorts for my mother during her pregnancy, and during the month of waiting that followed my birth and transfer to the NICU. Upon release from the hospital, my mother took me directly to Bake n Broil before I even went home. Cue note re: equidistant.
I know that I’m not alone in saying that Bake n Broil has been a staple for the Long Beach community for both young and old. Family-owned and -operated, with a menu that has stood the test of time, nothing much has changed at the restaurant other than perhaps the wallpaper.
While some come for the soup, their pies are what steal the show. In particular, their chicken pot pie is outstanding. I say this not only from the perspective of a diner, but as a person in the restaurant industry. The menu caveats the dish with “while they last” – a phrase we would all love to say with the honest truth that, yes, we may just run out on you because they are a popular item, and we just can’t make enough. Sorry!
Then there are the sweet pies – pies that have graced the Thanksgiving dinner table since year one, even considering that there have been Sqirl pies for the past decade. Our mighty pastry team does an arduous 200 pies during Thanksgiving, and that is an incredible, proud moment for us. Over at Bake n Broil, they do 2,000, including a mincemeat pie you never knew you needed and a pecan pie better than anything out there. I’m aware that’s saying a lot – but the nostalgia and consistency make it so.
As chefs and restaurant owners, we watch life move on by those entering through our doors. Children grow to become college kids, adults grow a bit grayer – and in turn, we become a little grayer ourselves. Teams join and move on, and sometimes the only permanence comes by way of the routine of opening and closing each day or night, and the recipes we make, year after year, bite after glorious bite – bites like that pecan pie. Or the chicken pot pie that, well, I’ll get next time, because this time, they’re all sold out.
Jessica Koslow is the chef-owner of Sqirl in Los Angeles.