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.

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

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.

As I inhaled my classic American breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns, and pancakes I couldn’t help but think about the daily life of the B & B Cafe. This is a special place. But maybe only because I’ve stepped foot in Albert Lea city limits for about one hour since 2003. What’s it like for the people who’ve been here the remaining 113,800+ hours?

The wood paneled walls showcasing a decades worth of hockey achievements is an endearing sight to wanderers like me. But how do the folks running the B & B stay in such blissful state of permanence? How do they stand at the same griddle? How do they wipe the same counters? How do they fill the same damn coffee 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 repetition, you learn to take pleasure in the little changes. New silverware. New napkins. New door mat. Keep all the big details the same and cherish the stability. You have a good thing going. Why risk a big change?

I’m always tempted to tinker and experiment. 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 suppose they might try staying open later in the day. What about serving hamburgers? What about serving lattes? Maybe the thoughts have crossed over the threshold. But the B & B Cafe does do lunch. The B & B Cafe doesn’t do burgers. The B & B makes coffee in an old coffee maker, and that’s it.

I hope the owners of the B & B know their space has created permanent memories for folks, like me, from Albert Lea. I hope they hold the same nostalgia for the place; the years are not merely annoying repetition, but warm memories stacking one on top of the other like… like…

Hmm. If only I could think of the  perfect simile.

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