Patel Brothers: a new experience in the ‘burbs

During our day trip yesterday to Jersey, we spent some time exploring the Indian and Filipino shops in Edison, and one of the places I briefly popped into in search of the season’s very last mangoes was Patel Brothers. Since I’d been to the Jackson Heights location so many times, I really didn’t think much of going into this location (also, there are THREE Patel Brothers within short driving distance on the exact same street in Edison! What is this about??). But when I stopped in after Chris dropped me off on a mango mission, I was immediately taken by the fact that when I entered, to the left of the entrance was an entire BAKERY devoted to fresh Indian breads: parathas, rotis, naans, theplas, samosas, puri… I could not believe it. Some people were standing in line for the breads just out of the oven. The front was lined was recently baked, still warm breads. It smelled like a mix of cumin, hing, ghee, and wheat. I was seriously in heaven and could not stop gawking at the bakery and all its offerings. It’s like I was a kid in a candy shop and I couldn’t contain how overwhelmed I was. I wanted to buy one of each, but ended up exercising some self restraint and settling on the coriander thepla and the palak parathas. How was it possible that I had no idea that Patel Brothers in the suburbs could have a bakery component? I wish the Jackson Heights location had a fresh bakery! I felt so deprived and like I had been missing out for the last twelve years of living in New York and being a regular customer at the Jackson Heights Patel Brothers!

I was likely the only non-South-Asian customer in the entire store — at least from what I could see. As I waited in line to purchase my breads and mangoes, I noticed the trays of mangoes strategically placed at the entrance of the store. As each couple or family unit entered, it was literally these actions taken, one after the other, no fail: Enter, grab cart, plop a tray of mangoes, proceed. Enter, grab cart, plop on a tray of mangoes, proceed. The store knew what it was doing. It knows its clientele. It knows that South Asians love their mangoes, and so they placed these right at the entrance to lure the customers. And lure they did.

I, however, did not need to be lured. I came in with one mission: buy those mangoes. And I left with not just a tray of mangoes, but also TWO TYPES OF FRESH INDIAN FLAT BREADS — oh, and some Parle-G biscuits since they happened to be on sale, and they go pretty darn well with my ritual Friday chai. It may have been the best day ever in a long time for me.

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