UAB loves Lucy and we do too

Birmingham AL
Lucy Bonds, owner of Lucy’s Coffee and Tea. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

When the pandemic hit this past spring, many small businesses closed forever. For the UAB community, the loss of Lucy’s Coffee and Tea was especially hard because they never got to thank Lucy Bonds, the owner of Lucy’s. That’s about to change.

On Wednesday, December 16 at 12PM, UAB will livestream (Note: the event was postponed 12/13 because of COVID concerns) a dedication ceremony on their Facebook page where Lucy will receive a commemorative plaque and an honorary UAB 25-year employee pin. The university will also announce the launch of the Lucy Bonds Student Scholarship.

It Started with a Coffee Cart

Lucy's Coffee and Tea

More than 27 years ago, Lucy Bonds started a coffee cart on the corner of University Boulevard and 20th Street, serving the employees of UAB’s hospital, clinics and schools. 

This was something new. It was before Starbucks and other coffee franchises made their way to the Magic City.

A couple of years later, she took the plunge and opened Lucy’s Coffee and Tea—literally across the street from where she operated her cart. It wasn’t long before UAB employees and students became loyal customers and lifelong friends. 

Lucy’s Impact on Birmingham

Lucy's Coffee and Tea
Lucy Bonds with her husband Brian Kelleher. Photo via UAB

Here are two testimonies that sum up the impact Lucy and her coffee shop had on the Birmingham community:

“I came to UAB as a graduate student in 1994. Lucy had a coffee cart at the time. Graduate school is not the easiest thing, it takes a lot of dedication and learning how to exist as a scientist. For me, Lucy’s cart, and later her shop, became an oasis to get away from the stresses of being a graduate student. That transitioned into the next part of my career, using the place to write papers and grants. Some of my colleagues have mentioned that many of their ideas were developed at Lucy’s.

Todd Green, Associate Professor in Microbiology at UAB
Lucy’s Coffee on University Boulevard. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

“In many ways, Lucy’s Coffee Shop was UAB’s coffee shop, and it did so much more than serve coffee. Lucy didn’t have a UAB employee badge or email address, but she was an integral part of the UAB community and played a vital role in our history and culture of collaboration and innovation. Lucy’s was the place where researchers flocked to have conversations that turned into million-dollar grants, where students wrote their papers and where many UAB employees were hired or recruited. It’s not an understatement to say she is incredibly loved by our students, faculty and staff spanning both the academic and medical campuses. Many of us were heartbroken when we heard the news that the shop was closing. Kicking off a scholarship fund in her name seemed like a good way we could honor her contribution and dedication to the UAB community.”

Rosie O’Beirne, longtime customer, friend, and UAB Chief Digital Strategy & Marketing Officer

We Love Lucy’s

Lucy's Coffee and Tea

Along with the new scholarship and the 25-year employee pin, the university created a website appropriately called We Love Lucy’s. On it, people are encouraged to write down a special memory or a note of thanks. And, while on the website, consider making a donation to the scholarship

Also, don’t forget to visit the UAB Facebook page on Wednesday, December 16th at 12PM.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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