I was in Zabar's again a couple of weeks ago. There's really no good reason for me ever to go back. Their food makes me fat. I actually dislike their bagels and coffee! I usually have to go out of my way to be there when it's open. There's nothing important nearby. And yet every year I trek back. They continuously update it, but Zabar's always feels the same. Like the first year of my happy marriage when my husband and I were starting out in New York.
My loyalty to Zabar's is irrational. It's not based on any shared value except being true to oneself. The store has grown stronger over the years, but held onto its identity, even as the neighborhood around it has changed. You can spend a lot of money there, but you can find joy in spending a couple of bucks (chocolate croissants).
Zabar's is really, really nice to its customers. I don't recognize their owners or employees, and they don't recognize me but we respect one another. Most places in New York have disappeared or changed since we moved away, but Zabar's survives. It's inspiring.