President Obama stops at Magnolia's on Park Avenue

Posted at: 08/22/2013 2:02 PM
Updated at: 08/22/2013 7:28 PM

The whereabouts of the President's brief lunch stop was a well-kept secret. It wasn't on his agenda. But once he arrived, word spread quickly and for a lucky few, it meant meeting the president.

It wasn't until "Ground Force One," left the Thruway and jumped on I-490 that we knew Rochester was going to host the President for lunch. The motorcade passed through downtown and ended up on Park Avenue, where the President arrived for a working lunch at Magnolia's Deli and Cafe.

Some hand shaking, a little food(which consisted of the tomato and artichoke soup and a half of a grilled cheese sandwich) and a serious discussion with a handful of college students and their families.
Douglas Brady, a University of Rochester student, was pre-selected to be part of the lunch group.

Douglas Brady said,"We just talked bout what was going on in higher education today, what we're trying to improve, what we can change and where we see things going in the future."

Outside, after word got out on social media, crowds started to form on the corner of Park Avenue and Oxford Street, everyone trying to get a look at or a picture of the President. Some got closer than others and actually got to shake the President's hand.

Muhammad Ahsan said, "We were just kind of standing in the corner waiting and a couple of Secret Service people came up and were like, 'Would you like to have a closer spot' and I said, 'sure.'"

Liz McKean works at Magnolia's and served the President his lunch. She says she wasn't even supposed to work today, but switched shifts with a colleague.

Liz McKean said, "He was very friendly. He was very sweet. He took pictures with us and everything. So it was great. We found out like 20 minutes before he got here so it was a huge surprise."

Brian Nielsen, of Irondequoit, and his son, Isaac, were on their way home when they heard the President was stopping on Park Avenue. So they made a little detour and it paid off.

Brian Nielsen said, "Met him. Shook his hand. Shook his hand first. He was talking to him. Shook my hand, and yeah, nice guy, really nice guy."

After a little more than an hour inside, President Obama waved to an enthusiastic crowd. A brief, but memorable glimpse before boarding the bus. With a full police escort, as quickly as he came, the President was on his way back down the Thruway.

There had been rumors that the President might stop at Nick Tahou's or the Highland Diner for lunch. In the end, he ended up at Magnolia's at the recommendation of New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who said he was familiar with the cafe firsthand from walking in the Park Avenue Festival each year.