What Wikipedia Can't Tell You About: Busy Bee Restaurant and Confectionary Store

Have you ever wondered about the history of businesses once located on Campbell Avenue? In this blog post, we explore the origins of the Busy Bee Restaurant and Confectionary Store.


Mrs. Mabel White bought the Busy Bee Restaurant and Confectionary Store in 1927. Located on East Campbell Ave near the current day location of La Pizzeria, it did a nice business with cannery workers.


One of those workers was Anthony Raffanti. Raffanti began working for the Ainsley cannery with his father in 1917 at age 16 and continued to work for the company throughout the 1920s. In 1928, John Colpitts Ainsley of the Ainsley House paid the fee for Tony to get a chauffeur’s license, and Tony drove him around town on occasion. By the mid-1930s, Tony was no longer a chauffeur. He and his wife Eva Spragia worked at White’s Busy Bee Restaurant.


Following the repeal of Prohibition, the ownership of the Busy Bee saw an opportunity; the people were thirsty!  However, the Campbell family had successfully stopped liquor and beer sales on businesses located on the original Campbell ranch lots since the 1890s. The Campbell’s included a clause in leases that forbade the sale of liquor. Regardless, Harry White got a license to sell beer at his restaurant, and the Busy Bee served up the first frosty glass of suds in the summer of 1933. Jeannette Watson points out in Campbell: The Orchard City that by 1980, there were 109 liquor licenses in Campbell.


When the Busy Bee moved to its final location at 354 East Campbell Avenue in 1942, it was called Tony’s Busy Bee in honor of its owner, Tony Raffanti. Today, the location of the first beer sold in Campbell is the Celtic Shoppe. Considering the Scottish roots of the Campbell family, perhaps the spirits of Benjamin and his children got the last laugh.


Do you have any history tidbits you'd like to share about Campbell Avenue? Let us know in the comments!

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