Restaurants and bars are forever seeking out winsome ways to charm and serve a sometimes fickle, treat-craving public.
Offbeat specials might pop up every month, or deep discounts at happy hour, or a jukebox featuring local artists, or a behind-the-bar toteboard full of regulars' photos and their favorite dishes or drinks.
But the fact is this: Free food is always a fine way into people's affections, especially if that free food is dessert, and more specifically a brownie, which few people, if any, can find the power to resist.
And certainly not at last call, when a mellow mood reigns and eyelids are droopy and customers are yawny and taxis are on the way. Westbound in downtown Los Angeles is going the free brownies route nowadays, a moist-chewy move that is charming its usual customoers and new fans alike.
The meringue-topped brownie bites, which are delivered on the warm side, aren't merely a midnight snack, but, rather, a post-midnight snack. The time they emerge from the back of the house? It's 1 a.m., which might be the most comfort-food-iest hour of the night, as that's frequently when revelers are closing up their carousing for the evening and looking for a nosh.
If you know Westbound, you know that it isn't just train-lovely in name-only; it is located in a La Grande Station, which hails from 1893. And, yes, you're right, railroad mavens: Santa Fe Railroad did use the train station lo these many decades ago.
Did early 20th-century travelers dine upon chocolate confections while awaiting the night's final train? Westbound is honoring the long-standing tradition of snacking in a train station as the hour grows late.
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This is, by the by, something of a tasty trend. Both Rec Room in Chicago and the Rec Room in Aspen do gratis last-call goodies these days, and Employees Only in New York ladles chicken soup out to the guests who've hung around through 3:45 in the morning.