No coleslaw?

Subject: Travel Pool #5

 

Pool was allowed into Arthur Bryant’s, a popular BBQ joint, as the president ordered at the back of the restaurant, looking up at the menu on a large placard as he asked for a half slab, a bottle of water, and a Bud Light — pooler got visual confirmation on the water but not the beer.

 

Mr. Obama also ordered coleslaw, only to be told they don’t have any.

 

“You’ve got to have some coleslaw around here, don’t you?” he said. “You’re out of it? You didn’t save any for me?”

 

“Come on, man, I thought you were going to hook me up,” he added, as the workers grinned.

 

At the cash register, he pulled out a wallet and some cash, with a $50 bill visible on top.

 

“I want to pay for everybody,” he told the woman at the register, likely referring to the guests who wrote him letters.

 

After ordering, he headed into another room with black-and-white photos of baseball players lining the walls, where he greeted smiling diners (and the pool tried not to fall into anyone’s laps in the slightly cramped quarters).

 

A fast-pitch softball team of 16-year-old girls called the Titans (hometown of Glenview, Illinois) sat in spots throughout the restaurant, finishing up their meals in navy blue uniforms. The president learned they are playing in the “World Series” (which is reportedly taking place in Independence, Missouri), and said he would cheer for them.

 

A woman with blonde hair and glasses rose to shake his hand from another table.

 

“He’s so handsome, oh my God!” she exclaimed.

 

“I’m paying for her food,” he said after hugging her.

 

“You’re so handsome,” she continued. “The First Lady is so lucky.”

 

She became choked up as she shook his hand a final time, and he continued, sitting down with the four letter-writers — see details in the last pool report — around a table in the corner by the front window with, at that point, only large cups set out. They began to talk, and the pool was ushered out.

 

Pool is now holding outside as a crowd gathers next to the restaurant.

 

Again, thanks to NPR’s Tamara Keith for many of the president’s quotes.

 

Emmarie Huetteman

Washington Bureau

The New York Times

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