At the intersection of Liacouras Walk and Montgomery Avenue, the mascot couple, Mel and Lena, operate the Bagel Hut. For 11 years they have fulfilled the lunch dreams of hungry Temple students. Everyone knows the drill: tell Lena what you want, step aside and keep an open ear for your order.
But, it’s not just skilled sandwiching methods that give the hut its good name. According to many, it’s Lena’s indispensable relationship advice.
“I give advice to the girls or the guys not to stick in the same relationship if they’re not sure of themselves,” Lena said. “I think that it’s very, very important to make sure it’s the right person [in a relationship].”
Due to the rapidly rising divorce rate, stable marriages have grown scarce. In 2002, a study by North Carolina State University concluded that nearly 50 percent of marriages today end in divorce.
Lena believes there is a direct correlation between couples living together and how seriously they will commit to marriage. She feels the more partners a person lives with, the less likely they are to fully commit to their marriages in the future.
“If you live with [someone] for a year and you don’t get a ring on your finger … I think that you should definitely move out,” Lena advised.
At the same time, Lena does not object to a couple living together under certain circumstances.
“I think to continue living together would be a waste unless you don’t want children and you don’t care about getting married,” Lena said. “If you can be happy like that, then it’s fine.”
Lena believes people need to demonstrate their love for one another in order to maintain a strong relationship.
“A lot of people don’t take the time to be as affectionate as they should,” said Lena.
Many bagel-hutters are aware of the loving bond that Mel and Lena share, not because of the way they gaze into one another’s eyes, but because of the manner in which they squabble.
“I think that if you can’t bicker a little, that you don’t have a strong relationship,” said Lena. “If you bicker, it’s better because you’re getting it out. You end up divorced when you don’t discuss things.”
Mel and Lena certainly won’t bicker about one thing: the joy they find in serving the Temple community and the satisfaction they feel when munching on their own goodies.
Whether she’s giving relationship advice or taking orders, Lena loves her job.
“I really appreciate and enjoy the relationship that Mel and I have with our customers,” Lena said. “The students keep me young.”
Lauren Depino can be reached at lissettCC@aol.com