Posted by: Kath Usitalo | October 21, 2011

Friday Foray: Babalu Cafe In Lucille Ball’s Hometown

Babalu Cafe in Jamestown, New York sells memorabilia related to hometown girl Lucille Ball

At the heart of the Great Lakes Gazette is Michigan, the Great Lakes State. But on some Fridays we’ll make forays to the rest of the region that touches the Great Lakes Huron, Michigan, Superior, Erie and Ontario:  New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario, Canada.

October 15 marked the 60th anniversary of  the launch of “I Love Lucy,” the beloved television sitcom that, according to TVland, has aired continually somewhere in the world since that night in 1951.

Ricky Ricardo perched on the coffee bar

The show, which is known for technological and creative breakthroughs in the new medium of TV, starred Great Laker Lucille Ball as the dizzy red-headed housewife Lucy, and her real life husband Desi Arnez as her Cuban entertainer hubby Ricky Ricardo. Their sidekicks and best friends were Fred (William Frawley) and Ethel (Vivian Vance) Mertz.

I remember watching and loving Lucy as a kid, and still enjoying episodes with our kids. Simple, classic, funny, and clean humor. What a timeless concept.

Lucille Desiree Ball was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York, but—here’s a little-known fact—lived in Wyandotte, Michigan as a toddler.

When her father died suddenly the family returned to Jamestown, which celebrates its famous daughter with the annual Lucy Fest in August. Check out the website of the Lucy Desi Center for info on attractions, trivia and more.

We pass Jamestown en route to and from visiting Paige at college in Ithaca, New York, and one day I plan to spend some time checking out the Lucy-Desi Museum and other Lucy-related locations.

Last week we got a quick preview when Paige and I stopped for gas at the Jamestown I-86 exit and, in search of a late lunch detoured a couple of miles into town to find a carry-out alternative to the fast food joints.

We drove past Lake View Cemetery, where Lucy is buried with her family, and happened to stumble upon the Babalu Cafe. The storefront diner is named for the tune the bongo-playing Ricky Ricardo sang in the TV show.

Rather than a take-away we ended up taking a table at the cozy place.

April, a Lucy fan and owner of the new breakfast and lunch spot, was holding down the conversation with regulars at the handsome coffee bar. Her daughter waited on us; we each ordered the cup of soup du jour special with half a panini sandwich.

Both soups and sandwiches were warm and tasty, and at just $5 each they were better than the drive-through choices.

A nice surprise at the end: we each were presented with a handmade truffle. Shades of the famous Lucy and Ethel chocolate factory episode.

The $5 soup and sandwich special

Though not a culinary hot spot, Babalu Cafe is a clean and friendly stop, especially if you’re a Lucy and Desi fan passing through the area.

I do like to support local joints, and if I make a return visit I may just try coffee and a slice of homemade pie—April said they’d run out and had to bake more.

Related Post:

Western NY Fall Color Drive

Visitor Info Clicks:

Western NY Fall Foliage Report

Chautauqua Lake

New York State 

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