By Eleni Zaninovich
Dennis Van Oostendorp puts his life and his love into his restaurant, Luv Shak Bagels.
A rock music enthusiast and food fanatic who will be your friend for as long as you can keep up with him, he’s a rare soul who connects with people who show up to order without even trying. A rare soul who never tried to be someone he wasn’t.
Tucked away behind other restaurants and businesses on West Oxford Loop, Luv Shak is a hotbed of quirkiness and quirkiness. Enter and you enter a time machine.
Nostalgia rushes through your veins as you see the 1970s-style brown paneled walls, graffitied with the names of patrons who have waited in this crowded room of hungry 20s.
His love for students, the youth of Oxford, and the courage of those who can keep up with his fast-paced lingo are what draw students back week after week.
“Dennis is the man.” says Arnie Coritana, a senior at Ole Miss who frequents the cabin every Sunday with his best friends.
Van Oostendorp will tell you what’s wrong with today’s music as he whips up your fresh bagel sandwich you’ve been waiting in line for.
“Can you believe they charge me every month to have that TV screen on the wall?” he asks. “I paid for it. Why should I pay fees? »
In May, he will be in Mississippi for 12 years, the Luv Shak being present for seven years, becoming what he is today.
You come here for the bagels, but you also come to hear Van Oostendorp. It’s a treasure trove of one-liners and flippant humor, moving from topic to topic, almost a stream of consciousness.
“Twenty years from now that the music you listen to, you’ll be like phfft. Twenty years ago, for us, I mean, Bruce Springsteen released The Rising. He’s 22 and I still consider him a new job. For me, it’s still new Bruce.
Van Oostendorp, 60, grew up on the New York side of the Washington Bridge. He values good friendships, good people, and being honest with yourself, whether that’s your good or bad self.
His musical journey began at a young age, playing the classical violin, which he gave up over time when he realized that no rock star played the violin. He later regretted it once violinists started appearing in rock bands over the decades. His father played in a polka band when Oostendorp was growing up. And if he appreciates all music, rock is the best genre of all time, he says.
Stepping into the Luv Shak feels like you’ve been here before, and maybe you feel like you were born into the wrong generation – a feeling you’ve never felt in the real one. life, only through the memories of others.
Here you are, in a living past, but with people of your age, and Van Oostendorp as your guide. It reminds you of the Dazed and Confused hangout or the Fast Times mall at Ridgemont High. You have never been so happy to see a pinball machine in your life.
Framed posters of bands like the Dave Matthews Band decorate the walls, along with the names of countless patrons, tattooed by Sharpies. Elton John’s “Rocket Man” plays, followed by Johnny Cash’s “Jackson” then Stevie Nicks’ smooth, sweet voice.
As the sun comes in, merging with the rainbow LED lights that surround the room, you sit down at one of the old tables that look like they’ve come straight out of a 1980s pizzeria, with dozens of concert under glass. Everywhere you look you’ll find ticket stubs, from rock shows to the soccer world cup. The sun has lightened the ink on most tickets that were probably printed from a fax machine decades ago, he says.
As you finally reach the counter to order a bagel sandwich, you can’t wait to see what words of wisdom Van Oostendorp will utter today. Without even leaving Mississippi, you feel like you’ve stepped off the Washington Bridge into New York, talking to your dad’s old college buddy. Even if you’ve never had one, you feel at home.
Students are drawn to Van Oostendorp’s witty demeanor because he doesn’t sugarcoat life, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a negative conversationalist. He doesn’t want to be full of wisdom, he just is. He offers opinions on everything, and whether you agree or not, he’ll always think you’re cool because, he says, not everyone thinks the same.
“I don’t microwave. I have never cooked with it. I won’t,” Van Oostendorp offers in another separate stream of consciousness. “That’s how it is. Anyway, my favorite gig of all time? Well, I’ve seen Zeppelin. Those are my favorites, and for me, that’s kind of number one.
What students might see as just a collection of random antics, posters and vintage photos is Van Oostendorp’s intention to create a vibe, his vibe, just him being genuinely himself with the things he loves. .
“Yes, but none of that is really old. When you do something too clean, that’s the problem. People don’t understand that today,” says Van Oostendorp. “They think that you have to have all kinds of things at all levels that have no value, even at home, and they don’t touch them. You should be able to put your feet up on the couch. If you can’t, you’ve got the wrong couch.
When asked a more sentimental question about what he loves about Luv Shak and his job, Van Oostendorp pauses before saying, “Nice people…and boring teachers.”