"Ask Jimmy what makes it so great. He sat right there at the bar and wrote the song," explains Ma Ruby, when asked about her world famous cheeseburger. Jimmy would be the "Gulf and Western" singer Jimmy Buffet of Margaritaville and Parrot Head fame. "Cheeseburger in Paradise" is his much -quoted song about finding nirvana between two slices of bread with a sea breeze wafting in the background. A couple of other island restaurants claim that they originated the dish but according to the Parrot Head Handbook and Ma Ruby herself, her little eatery in Tingam Village Hotel on Harbour Island is the place that stirred Jimmy's appreciation. The legendary burger is a huge slab of meatloaf-like beef between two thick slices of toasted Bahamian bread and cheese. Since I don't eat burgers, I can't tell you about the greatness of her cheeseburger but I can tell you about the greatness of Ma Ruby.
Her restaurant is filled with signed hats, photos and souvenirs from the visitors that flock to her place. The eatery is also known for good Bahamian food but I suspect that it's Ma that draws the crowds. Warm, compact and authoritative, 77 years of raising eight children have bestowed her with the charm and grace that attracts people to her.
Evidence of this line the walls of her restaurant, awards and citations from local organizations, Madrid and her meeting with Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth showcase her star power.
You can't visit Harbour Island and not drop in to see Ma Ruby. That would be like going home and forgeting to visit your mother. Forget the cheeseburger, grab a drink and listen to Ma Ruby's life story and you'll glimpse a little of what life in paradise really means.