Its like a couple of lunch ladies started a restaurant, my friend said, smiling broadly, as we walked inside the little west Arlington lunch spot known as Boo Boos Food Shop.
Theyre not quite lunch ladies, but Boo Boos is definitely a mom-and-pop make that mom-and-friends operation.
Sherry Gould has owned and operated this sweet little sandwich shop for 33 years. The location started a few years before that as Uncle Boo Boos Frozen Yogurt Shop (Uncle Boo Boo was the name her then-young children called the man who co-owned the yogurt shop). Eventually, the little business fell to Sherry Gould to run and, in 1980, she turned it into a neighborhood lunch spot.
Many of the customers at Boo Boos are regulars: The elderly couple who live nearby and come by every weekday for their daily outing. The University of Texas at Arlington baseball team, whose players fuel up at Boo Boos before home games. The customers Gould calls Boo babies. Theyve been coming in since they were children and now they have children of their own theyre bringing.
The menu 33 years ago and today is simple: sandwiches, a daily soup and a small salad bar.
Sandwiches include such homey choices as chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, pimento cheese, vegetable and cream cheese, ham and cheese, roast beef and cheese, and avocado. There are not one but two kid-friendly peanut butter choices: peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter, banana and honey.
Sandwiches range in price from $2.50 for PB&J to $5.25 for chicken salad/avocado.
The soup ($3) changes daily: potato on Monday; chicken with egg noodles on Tuesday; vegetable on Wednesday; mushroom on Thursday; cheese broccoli on Friday. (Cheese broccoli sometimes shows up on other days.) A gazpacho is also available daily, and chili ($3.50) makes a hearty appearance Fridays during winter.
Gould says the most popular order is the soup, half sandwich and drink ($5.65-$6, depending on the sandwich choice).
We tried the chicken salad sandwich with the soup of the day. The chicken was chopped fine, and scallions gave the mixture a nice piquancy. The whole-wheat bread, spinach leaves and tomato slices made us feel as if we were eating healthfully. The popular cheese broccoli soup was thick with discernible chunks of broccoli, and we thought we detected a bit of ham flavoring. Delightfully, the lunch plate was sided with carrot chips, which werent chips at all but coins of crisp, freshly cut carrots.
The bacon avocado sandwich ($5.25), also served with spinach and tomato, didnt stint with the thick-cut bacon, but what made it memorable was the extra-generously sized chunks of avocado.
The chilled gazpacho is chunky with carrots, radishes, cukes, celery and onions, and its a nice way to cool off on a hot day.
Some of the desserts are baked by a friend of Goulds: the cream cheese brownies, the decorated sugar cookies and Barbaras fudge.
The decor is provided by the Boo tribe, too. A friend of Goulds changes out the decor every three months. Sometimes its quilts, sometimes its watercolors. When we were there, there was a collection of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls on the wall.
Theres often a line, but it moves fast and Gould has no plans to expand. The simple business has kept a roof over my head and raised my children, she says. In fact, she cut back a while ago from six days a week to just weekdays.
Theres something to be said for keeping things small and manageable, and just doing what you do well.