We Love Lucy’s: UAB community thanks Lucy Bonds for 27 years of great coffee, service

We all miss Lucy’s Coffee and Tea — UAB’s unofficial coffee shop, which closed due to the pandemic. Her longtime friends and customers at UAB are hoping to fund a student scholarship in her name.

Lucy.2Lucy Bonds and Lucy’s Coffee and Tea provided a cozy space on University Boulevard for members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham community to connect and recharge. 

For many, Lucy’s was not just a place to get incredible coffee and food but a place to study, relax, enjoy stimulating and fun conversation, and work on projects that had the potential to change the world.

In March, the pandemic forced Bonds to close the shop for good. In tribute to Bonds and the small business she created, UAB is recognizing her for decades of service to the campus community, and her longtime friends and customers are raising money for a UAB student scholarship in her name. The plan, “We Love Lucy’s,” was launched.

More than 27 years ago, Lucy’s started with a cart, serving the employees of UAB’s hospital, clinics and schools. Once the coffee shop opened in August 1995, it became a home away from home for thousands of UAB students as they studied and prepared for their rigorous professional careers. Lucy’s also showcased local artists and offered them space to sell works — which provided thoughtful gifts for her busy customers to pick out on the go. Through the years, Bonds and her staff greeted people by name when they popped in for “the usual.” She often said she had the smartest customers around. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March, Bonds shifted to providing hot, homemade meals to UAB health care workers on the front lines, including the 1917 Clinic. But without her thousands of customers on campus every day, Bonds made the difficult decision to close the shop.

Regular customers at Lucy’s could order on prepaid credit — their tally kept on a giant chalkboard of names — when they may not have had a wallet handy, then grab whatever fuel they needed with the words “It’s on the board.” Lucy’s customers were so loyal she was able to drive off a national coffee chain, which opened, and then closed, right next door.

The UAB community has started a scholarship fund in tribute to Bonds and her small business, Lucy’s Coffee and Tea. Give to the Lucy Bonds Student Scholarship to support the people Bonds was most passionate about.

Now the community that loved Lucy’s will have the chance to put money “on the board” for deserving students and keep that spirit of support alive for future Blazers.

A livestream dedication ceremony on UAB’s Facebook channel is planned soon. Bonds will be gifted a commemorative plaque, along with an honorary UAB employee 25-year pin.

The community is also invited to express their messages of thanks, share memories and say a few words on the website www.uab.edu/welovelucys