On July 7, customers at UCLA Medical Center's Café Med were delighted to find some colorful changes to their favorite cafeteria. Shiny blue, gold and white balloons adorned the dining room while a jukebox blinked brightly in the corner and "I Love Lucy" reruns played on TV monitors. Cafeteria staff, wearing ponytails and poodle skirts, cheerfully doled out portions of "My Little Margie's Oatmeal with Raisins and Brown Sugar" during the breakfast rush, "Ed Sullivan's Garden Vegetable Pasta Soup" at lunchtime and "Elvis and Priscilla's Southern Fried Chicken" for dinner.
The idea was to transport diners back to July 7, 1955 — exactly 50 years to the day that UCLA Medical Center admitted its very first patient. The best part? Many of the menu items were only 50 cents each in honor of the medical center's golden anniversary.
Tom O'Grady and Daniel Tesfay, students in nuclear medicine, both enjoyed "Fonzie's All-American Burger with Cheese" and "Marlon Brando's Chili-Cheese Fries," plus a soda, for around $2.50 each. "They can have this every day! It's perfect for students," O'Grady said. "Fifty cents — yeah, it got our attention."
Dental assistant Sharon Beckford waited patiently in line for "Marshal Dillon's Bread Pudding with Bourbon Cream Sauce," which snaked out the door. "This line is super-long, but I don't care," Beckford said, laughing. "Because my friend said if I didn't bring her some pudding, she wasn't going to talk to me anymore."
For those who missed this event, or Cafe Med's second '50s-themed, 50-cent day on Aug. 18, there's no need to fret: There will be three more such events, on Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. And to add to the ongoing festivities, the first of three online hospital trivia quizzes was posted on Aug. 7, with 50 lucky medical center employees winning prizes that included $75 gift cards to Ralphs, $50 gift cards to the Cheesecake Factory, meal tickets to Café Med or Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center cafeteria and sneak preview tours of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Quiz no. 2 will be posted on Sept. 12 at the medical center's 50th-anniversary Web site.
Capping the anniversary celebration will be a party for medical center employees on Sept. 15 on the top level of the CHS parking lot, complete with a giant cake, Joe and Josephine Bruin, a band and deejay, and games, including a gigantic version of "Malpractice" (played like "Operation"). Guest speakers will include Chancellor Albert Carnesale; Gerald Levey, vice chancellor of medical sciences and dean of the medical school; David Callender, CEO of the UCLA Hospital System; and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, among others.