Busy Bee Café with Gravy and even more Gravy

by Mikey

I thought it might be fun to hit up the Busy Bee Café in Ventura, down in the older part of town, off of Main St.  They have been a staple of the community and a tourist hot spot for a very long time.  Busy Bee is modeled after a 1950’s diner and tries and keep their food similar to that era.  They are all about hamburgers, shakes, pie, and blue plate specials.

Busy Bee Café – Ventura Main St in Old Town Ventura


This part of Ventura is actually loaded with places to eat, so B and I will be picking them off, one by one.  I chose this one because I had been there a few times many years ago and I remember enjoying the burgers, shakes, and the waitresses in little cheerleader outfits awesome jukebox.

We had lots of company on this trip.  It was B, my son Trent, my high school buddy Aimee, and yours truly.  It was definitely a great chance to order lots of stuff and get a good sampling of the food.

First off the place looked exactly the same as it always had.  It’s all decked out 50’s style, has a juke box, diner counter, neon lights, and vintage signage.  The seats are that great candy apple red and the whole place has a fun vibe.

Just like the old school diners you can get all of the classic fountain drinks.  I recommend the chocolate coke and the milk shake.  They are both very rich and really good.

I decided to go with the blue plate special meat loaf and mashed potato.  Brian picked the chicken fried steak.  My boy got a cheeseburger, and Amy went with the beef stew.

I got an Albondigas soup with my meal and as far as Albondigas goes, it wasn’t too bad.  A bit on the bland side, it definitely needed something, maybe some more pepper, salt, and a little bit of onion.  The stock was just too watered down.  I wouldn’t even mind some more carrots or some string beans in that bad boy.

CIMG0006For the dinner reviews, let’s start off with the cheeseburger.  Their burgers are a pretty good size.  They use a good variety of cheeses and their produce, as far as sandwich toppings, was fresh and crisp.  My boy is a meat and cheeser so the extra toppings are more of a decoration for him.

B was the recipient of one huge ass chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, a corn and lima bean mush, and an apple.  The large size, of course, does not equate to deliciousness and it didn’t in this case.  It was tasteless and tired, with average batter and was just plain mediocre.  The gravy was almost, slightly, kinda, barely good and the mashed potato was without life or lacked the desire to be excellent.  We couldn’t tell which.


Hopefully Aimee will comment here about her Beef Stew, I forgot to try it.

My meat loaf, on the other hand, was in the witness protection program. Either that, or they have a real problem with wanting to hide their dinners in beef gravy.  My dinner was absolutely covered in it.  There was enough gravy on my plate to give all the children in slumdog millionaire half a cup.  I would like to tell you how good the meatloaf was, or even how bad it was. But the truth is, I think Mulder and Scully need to add the entire plate to the list of X-files.  They told me I had mashed potatoes too, but I think it was a myth.  The only thing that was clear was that I had gravy, corn and lima bean mush, and an apple.  The gravy itself was thick, loaded with mushrooms, and in moderation was a good old-fashioned beef gravy.

The only other alternative, of course, was that the meatloaf just had no flavor, just like B’s plate.


I’d love to know the deal with the apple.  I’ve never had a whole apple on my dinner plate before.  I wasn’t sure if I should take it with me or give it to a homeless guy.  Though unless he has marijuana to make an apple bong I doubt any homeless guy would want it.  They seem like a huge waste to me.  Another waste was the corn and lima bean mush.  It was soggy, lifeless, flavorless, and on the opposite of a good side dish.

As we were eating and I was analyzing my food and surroundings I realized what had happened to the Bee.  It’s become a senior home.  The food is bland, and plentiful, just like a cafeteria in a senior home.  We were the youngest in the place by about 30 years and the waitresses who should have that fun and happy swinging 50’s vibe were more like ranchers in an old folks corral.  Brian thinks it’s been like this for awhile and it was my memory of getting a phone number off a waitress back when I was 20 that was leading the charge to eat there.  He could be right.  Someone just needs to remove some gravy, and youth up the place.  I will say this, your kids will probably dig it and if you’re in Ventura walking Main St., stop in and have a milkshake or a flavored coke.  At least those are still as I remembered them.


Filed under Ventura, Ventura County

2 responses to “Busy Bee Café with Gravy and even more Gravy

  1. Maybe that’s why my grandma loves to go there. Her favorite is the reuben. I honestly have no memory of any food I have ever eaten there.

  2. Seriously, Michelle, it’s probably better that you don’t remember. The food was so unremarkable that I’m kinda sad that mikey even wrote the review. Still, old people gotta eat right?

    Word up to ya G-ma.

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