Mel Goldman, born in New York, came to Florida in the early 70’s and took over the Bagel Bar in North Miami Beach in 1972. It wasn’t long before the Bagel Bar became a household name, but people would refer to it as “Mel’s place”. People would say “Meet you at Mel’s”. The secret? Of course it was the homemade bagels served hot on paper plates, but perhaps, more so, it was the ‘family’ that Mel had built. Even players from the Miami HEAT , after practicing at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC, would go to “Mel’s” place to re-fuel. And—no surprise—even comedian Jackie Mason could be found there.
In those days, when kids skipped school, truant officers knew where to find them….at the Bagel Bar…..it was just that warm, comfortable part of their lives that the kids were seeking.
Mel’s specialty was the whitefish salad…and on weekends, lines would form around the corner, waiting patiently for their turn to savor the items that made Bagel Bar famous. For 27 years, Bagel Bar was a staple of the community… employing hundreds of people along the way. Mel had a soft spot in his heart for those less fortunate, and not only would employ them, but he invited them to live in his home when they didn’t have a place to stay.
Time moved all too quickly….and by the summer of 2007, Mel and Jo Ann had retired and were vacationing in the mountains of North Carolina. Jo Ann noticed that Mel was dragging his foot, gaining weight, becoming more and more agitated, but he checked out fine with the doctor. In December, 2007, Mel woke up with black and blue marks across his face. A brain scan followed and the diagnosis was menengioma, usually benign, but there were many years of problems leading up to the incident which, among other problems, created nerve damage in the face. He spent five months in a Neuroscience ICU, not walking or talking, and were told that “this is the best he’s going to be”.
In 2010, Dr. Charles Shenker referred Mel to Dr. Marie DiCowden, Director of the Biscayne Institutes of Health and Living located in Aventura. That was the day that hope sprang anew for the Goldmans. The Biscayne Institutes took Mel’s Medicare coverage, and began treatment as an outpatient. Dr. DiCowden’s philosphy is “Our bottom line is treating the person who has the disease, not treating the disease the person has.” Dr. DiCowden oversaw Mel’s treatments…. cognitive, psychological and more.
“My husband’s personality is starting to come back….he can hold a brief conversation, he reads and writes a little and can now walk with a walker,” said Jo Ann. “He loves the camaraderie at the Biscayne Institutes and he looks forward to going there every week. I would have traveled the world to find a place that could help Mel….but the miracle was that I found it right here in Aventura! And now, I want to make people aware of this special place…and its need for funding. We never know when we will be placed in the position of making life and death decisions for a loved one, and I want to let the world know that through the incredible work done by Dr. DiCowden and the Biscayne Institutes, Mel was given the gift of life.”
Biscayne Institutes of Health and Living is located at 2785 NE 183rd Street, Suite 100, Aventura. For information, call 305-932-8994 or visit BiscayneInstitutes.org