B & B Cafe (Albert Lea, MN)

Order of Nostalgia at the B & B Cafe

What does nostalgia taste like? There are millions of smells and flavors in your life. Which combination sums up all the warm memories? I suppose the easy answer is butter and maple syrup on a pancake.

The B & B Cafe has always been a special place to me. My mom would take me there for breakfast sometimes, usually on my birthday. She’d excuse me from school for the morning and we’d go sit in the same old diner, with the same old wood paneling, and the same old coffee machine, and the same old grill, and the same old counters, and eat the same old pancakes. It’s been well over 16 years since my last visit the B & B and I’m happy to report it’s the same old thing.

I’ve doubled in age since I last lived in Albert Lea, MN so I was rather skeptical that the place even existed. But to my surprise the B & B is alive and well. The pancakes are just as big and fluffy as I remember. Well… I guess that’s not true. They actually seem smaller, but the memories of a elementary school-aged kid are a little skewed when it comes to size.

B & B Cafe (Albert Lea, MN)
I swear they used to be bigger.

As I inhaled my classic American breakfast of eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and pancakes I could help but think about the daily life of the B & B Cafe. This is a special place to me. Heck, Albert Lea, MN is a special place. But that’s only because I’ve been there for a total of maybe 24 hours since 2003. What’s it like for the people who’ve been there the rest of the 113,800+ hours?

The wood paneled walls showcasing hockey achievements is a warm, endearing sight to a ghost like me. But I don’t think I could ever live in a permanent state like that the folks running the B & B. I think I can only be happy when the experience is new or a replay of moments from a different time. How do I stand at the same griddle? How do I wipe the same counters? How do I fill the same damn cups from the same damn coffee pot?

B & B Cafe (Albert Lea, MN)
Coffee’s been warm since forever.

Maybe when you live a life of mostly sameness, you acclimate and begin to take more pleasure in the little changes. New silverware. New napkins. New door mat. Keep all the big details the same and just cherish the stability. You have a good thing going.

My temptation would be to add new elements and create new experiments. I find I’m most satisfied if I’m creating something. What else is there to create when you already have the perfect pancake recipe?

I guess it’s crucial to remember that people are using your space to celebrate their special events. Give them that space and take pride in your ability to spread that happiness. And if you can’t find joy and comfort from giving people permanent memories, then I think you’re in the wrong business.

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