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Lunch, Anyone? Busy Bee Restaurant

A South Campus diner that’s charming and cheap


Photos by Erin Thibeau (CAS'13)

If you have the cravings of a kid (cheeseburgers andmilkshakes, anyone?) and the budget of a college student, then the Busy BeeRestaurant is the place for you. The small, unassuming eatery, on Beacon Streetbetween Carlton and St. Mary’s Streets, is everything a diner should be: fast,inexpensive, and delicious.

One of Busy Bee’s charms is its neighborhood feel, withBrookline locals and BU students mingling at the counter or in adjacent booths.An institution on South Campus since 1967, this family-owned diner beginsfilling up at 6 a.m., when regulars stroll in for their morning omelet andcoffee. Come by on a Saturday and you’ll stand in line with Brookline families emergingfrom the tree-lined side streets for brunch. This is a no-fuss restaurant—from theFormica tables to the turquoise vinyl banquettes.

Recently, a friend and I stopped in for lunch. After perusing a surprisingly extensive menu, which includes numerous daily specials, wedecided on a hamburger and a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato ($3.10).Although the bread was a bit undergrilled, it was very satisfying (we are,after all, talking about melted cheese). A generous side order of onion rings($1.95) was thick and crispy. Busy Bee’s frappes ($3.25) were enjoyableas well, although thick shake lovers might be disappointed with theirconsistency. We recommend the chocolate over the vanilla, but for $3.25 eachyou can afford to order both.

My friend opted for the quarter-pound cheeseburger withlettuce and onion ($2.35) and a hefty side of fries ($1.25). The cheeseburgerwas typical diner fare, not bad but not great either. The fries, thick andsalty, met expectations. But it was our final lunch item that stole the show:thick, toasted, home-style cornbread with melted butter ($1.25) was thedefinite winner of our food marathon.

What Busy Bee does best is breakfast, and the good news isthat breakfast items are served all day long. Two eggs, any style, with toastand plenty of hash browns, is $2.95. If you feel like splurging, pancakes runbetween $4.75 and $6.45, depending on the side orders. We recommend the Spanishomelet with cheese ($4.95), which comes with hash browns and toast.

At Busy Bee, if there’s one thing you can count on, it’sspeed. Our meals came within minutes and our shakes soon after. Although the serviceis fast, it is not the most attentive. We had to ask for a glass of watertwice, only to receive it at the end of the meal. A word of advice: treadlightly and politely at Busy Bee. Some of the waitresses can be temperamentaland have a tendency to treat extrarequests like flies. That said, it’s a small price to pay for a gem like BusyBee.

Busy Bee is always good, but it is not always open, closingat 7 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on Saturdays. It is also closed on Sundays.The restaurant accepts only cash (ATMs are located just a few stores away).Despite these inconveniences, this neighborhood joint is worth your while.

Busy Bee Restaurant, 1046 Beacon St., between St. Mary’s St.and Carlton St., Brookline, MA 02446, is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondaythrough Friday, and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (closed Sundays). The nearestT stop is St. Mary’s St. on the Green Line’s C trolley. Cash only. Phone: 617-566-8733.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.

Erin Thibeau can be reached at ethibeau@bu.edu.


6 Comments on Lunch, Anyone? Busy Bee Restaurant

  • Anonymous on 03.03.2011 at 6:43 am

    Busy Bee is Great

    As an Adjunct Lecturer, I use breakfast at Busy Bee for my office hours before my morning classes. So much betyter than what BU provides, in every respect.
    I am always well treated and the food is consistently good, clean and speedy.
    Two thumbs way up for Busy Bee.

  • Anonymous on 03.03.2011 at 9:59 am

    Thanks So Much for Writing about the Busy Bee!

    It’s such a local fixture that it had to be included in your series. I consider it the Durgin Park of Brookline!

  • Anonymous on 03.03.2011 at 10:40 am

    Love it!

    And totally agree about the frappes. Need to try that cornbread.

  • Anonymous on 03.04.2011 at 9:16 am

    Busy Bee Restaurant

    Three of us have breakfast there occasionally and I have to say it is the best, including the service. Donna is usually our waitress and she rates #1. Wish they were open on Sunday

  • Anonymous on 03.04.2011 at 9:23 am

    The Best BLTs

    Where else can you find such a tasty BLT on dark rye for $2.75?!

  • Anonymous on 05.25.2011 at 3:22 pm


    FYI they don’t have hash browns all day. We tried to get breakfast for lunch on a weekday and we could only get fries with our eggs. Definitely a place for cheap eats if you can handle them possibly not having what you wanted to pick from the menu… and only one menu per table or you’ll get hollered at.

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