But why is breakfast in a restaurant so special? In my case, it was a rare treat growing up, reserved for vacations or far excursions that started early. My one exception was, a once a year tradition (it lasted four or five years into my mid-teens) after I helped my dad, on his one half-day out of the year.
I was ten the first time and on the way home, as a reward, he stopped at the Cobe Diner (pronounced to rhyme with Moby). This ultimate truck driver greasy spoon was just beyond Canarsie's border on Remsen Avenue at Avenue D, (it closed in the 70's and a Wendy's took over that spot).
My dad was a work-a-holic, so I cherished these golden moments of one-on-one time. Especially when he said, "Get anything you want." Forty-eight years later, I still remember his response after I said, "Hey dad, these pancakes taste like hamburgers." He said, "Is that bad?" "No. I kinda like it." He said, "Good because everything cooked on that grill tastes like a hamburger."
I loved that father-son time so much that when my son Andrew was about two and a half, I experimented by taking him to our neighborhood Denny's for breakfast. I brought an arsenal of toys and other gimmicks to occupy him but shockingly, he took to the restaurant setting well. I ordered a Grand Slam and got him the junior version. I'm proud to say, he cleared the table like a hurdler.
|I TOOK A FEW PHOTOS TO COMMEMORATE THE OCCASION. LUCKILY OUR WAITRESS TIFFANY, SUGGESTED THAT SHE TAKE A PICTURE OF US BOTH.|
Breakfast at Denny's became a priceless yet affordable, twice-a-month tradition. Our order would stay the same but in a short time, I was eating the Junior Grand Slam and Andrew was having the adult portion. Even after our favorite waitress stopped working there...I still called our visits, breakfast at Tiffany's.
|AUDREY HEPBURN AS HOLLY GOLIGHTLY, FROM TRUMAN CAPOTE'S 1961, ROMANTIC, YET THOUGHT PROVOKING COMEDY, "BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S."|
I became braver as Andrew got older. In the name of running errands and entertaining my boy, we went all over the area and mixed, "FRIENDLY'S" and "IHOP" into our breakfast lineup.
Andrew did so well that we were having a breakfast in restaurants that weren't necessarily kid friendly like the Sunryser (the former Neen's Country Store) and the cafe at the Ten Acres Motel.
My wife Sue worked weekends but sometimes we would incorporate her in our escapades. Therefore when we went on vacation and had breakfast at a Bob's Big Boy or a Cracker Barrel it wasn't a surprise to see how patient and mannerly he was.
Once when Andrew was about six, on our way to the amusement parks in Williamsburg Virginia, we introduced him to the Waffle House, (many years later on a cruise, the comedian said of the Waffle House, "It was so dirty there, I saw a cockroach vomiting).
Andrew was a pro by this time and ordered pancakes. Our sixty-year old waitress with the giant mole on her cheek with cable wire-like hairs coming out of it and the cat woman glasses held around her neck with a beaded chain snarled, "This is the Waffle House, we don't serve pancakes..." Innocently, Andrew said, "They have waffles at the pancake house..." The waitress was speechless.
|ORIGINALLY A SONG AND DANCE MAN, CHRISTOPHER WALKEN (70) HAS APPEARED IN MORE THAN 100 MOVIES AND TV SHOWS. I BEST REMEMBER HIS ROLES IN, "THE DEER HUNTER," "ANNIE HALL" AND "CATCH ME IF YOU CAN." ANDREW'S FAVORITES INCLUDE, "PULP FICTION," "HAIRSPRAY" AND "SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS." BUT WE SHARE OUR APPRECIATION OF HIS ROLE IN THE SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE CLASSIC SKETCH, "MORE COWBELL."|
Our search for a better breakfast took us to several local diners. But after being brought up on the diners in New York City, all I can say is, the one's around here, all suck!
In the last few years our breakfasts out have evolved to the cream of the crop, Romanelli's. This brand new player is better suited to a more sophisticated taste. There really is nothing negative that one could say except that despite a vast menu, the sparkling clean, modern and beautiful interior, it is still devoid of any soul. By not taking any real chances, it attracts a much older, conservative crowd. It was those technicalities that drove us to our current chic restaurant, "Shea's Cafe and Bakery."
|SHEA'S IS LOCATED AT 195 SOUTH NEW YORK AVENUE (ROUTE-9) IN GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP NEW JERSEY. DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, CHECK THE INTERNET AND SEE ALL THE TOP-NOTCH REVIEWS IT RECEIVED. FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL THEM AT (609) 748-7000|
Andrew is now a college hipster and Shea's is like the holy grail of breakfast eateries to him, (and cool for me and everyone we take there). The place brims with tremendous service and a contemporary ambiance in both their epicurean offerings and young upbeat staff.
|BEAUTIFULLY PREPARED, SHEA'S DELECTABLES INCLUDE CINNAMON PANCAKES AND STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE.|
|WE TOOK MY COUSINS TO SHEA'S, ( MARCH 11th). THE PLACE RADIATES LOU'S INCREDIBLE PERSONALITY AND THEY DIDN'T MIND US LINGERING AFTER THEY CLOSED FOR THE DAY.|
Who knows, maybe at some point we'll find a place better than Shea's. But I doubt we will...because we won't try.
My only regret is that my father wasn't around to enjoy the breakfast circuit with Andrew and I.
|THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ANDREW AND MY FATHER WAS STRONG. IT'S STILL SO HARD TO BELIEVE DAD DIED EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO.|
Yes, it all started with the fond memories of hanging with dad...and the Cobe Diner's hamburger-flavored pancakes. The father-son tradition he started was revitalized here in South Jersey with breakfast at Tiffany's, (dad would have fit in perfectly in all our adventures). In particular, he would have gotten a kick out of watching Andrew grow up in our breakfast club. He would have also loved Shea's food and atmosphere and he would have gotten along handsomely with Lou, (they were both from the East New York section of Brooklyn).
Of course dad was never a complainer. That means, he would have been on the same page as Andrew and I...so like us, I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted much more out of life than great breakfasts and more cowbell. Click on the link below to see the, "MORE COWBELL" sketch featuring Christopher Walken and the band "BLUE OYSTER CULT" and their song, "DON'T FEAR THE REAPER."
Suddenly, I'm in the mood for some happy face pancakes.
|LOOKS TOO GOOD TO EAT...NOT !|