Ah, pancakes: a nostalgic, notorious breakfast item that’s quick to make, simple yet sweet, and a filling food that carries one through the day. Smothered with butter and drowning in syrup, pancakes are a reliable meal that a person can’t go wrong with. These flat, flavorful heaps of batter have always been a main morning meal component. But what makes one pancake stand out from another?
With two locations in Omaha, one location in Iowa, and another location coming soon to the Big O, Early Bird lives by its tagline of Not your everyday brunch, every day. As if chili and cinnamon rolls weren’t already a Nebraska staple, Early Bird has combined flapjacks with these sweet rolls to create the ultimate breakfast experience: cinnamon roll pancakes. The restaurant presents this pancake in an aesthetically pleasing way by cooking batter in oblong strips and rolling them into the shape of a mouthwatering cinnamon roll.
The staff at Early Bird is always keeping busy by making batches of pancake batter fresh daily. With a variety of pancakes to choose from, Early Bird emphasizes how customizable its options are and the importance of providing an indulgent and happy experience for guests. Ben Brigman, general manager, said the restaurant plays with nostalgia through its vibrant environment and bright splashes of color bouncing across the walls.
Early Bird strives to provide a breakfast experience filled with positive memories from start to finish. As a staple breakfast cuisine, Brigman said pancakes are a food for the people, and Early Bird’s fresh take on hotcakes leaves people coming back for more. “If there’s any meal you don’t have to feel bad about, it’s breakfast,” he said. “We want people to remember how much fun breakfast can be and have a fun time dining here.” Brigman said pancake batter is “a blank canvas” and is a way to experiment with an easy recipe and reminisce about childhood.
Keeping it old fashioned, Harold’s Koffee House in Florence focuses on delivering simple and fluffy plate-sized pancakes. Going strong since 1958, Harold Halstead and his family created the 1950s-themed diner with one goal in mind: to be the go-to neighborhood café. With a family recipe that has been around for decades, Owner Matt Bohnenkamp has taken his grandfather’s specialty by storm to serve the community one smile at a time.
Before Bohnenkamp was owner, he felt pancakes weren’t being treated as a priority at the Koffee House. Knowing pancakes have a “wow” factor, Bohnenkamp began experimenting in the kitchen to create large, fluffy pancakes. Instead of creating a highly decorated breakfast dessert, Harold’s Koffee House specializes in its homemade buttermilk “fluffy cakes.” With a recipe centered around taste and smell, the restaurant’s thick pancake mix makes for a classic breakfast filled with fluffiness.
For pancake-loving people, Bohnenkamp said Harold’s Koffee House is a traditional breakfast spot with a homey, neighborhood vibe. Alongside a staff that has been with the restaurant for over 40 years, Harold’s Koffee House promotes a culture centered around community, sharing, and creating authentic relationships. “It’s the syrup on the pancake!” Bohnenkamp said. “You’re a name, not a number. That’s what we’re about.”
How does one find their mojo? Easy – take a trip down to Jojo’s. Nestled in the heart of Benson, Jojo’s Diner is far from your average eating establishment. With a modern take on a traditional diner, Jojo’s dishes up anything from horchata pancakes and hippie toast to chicken sandies and barbacoa grilled cheese. Combined with bananas, brown sugar, and made-from-scratch horchata, this concoction takes the place of syrup, coating cinnamon caramelized bananas atop three colossal cakes with a syrupy horchata glaze.
With an attention-grabbing creation as unmatched as this, Jojo’s strives for uniqueness and offers plenty of specialty pancakes in place of desserts. Because these are a high-selling menu item, Head Chef Tim Glazeski wanted to go beyond serving basic breakfast foods such as waffles and French toast. Glazeski develops all recipes and finds inspiration through trial and error. Offering up exclusive menu items, Jojo’s Diner strives to dish up both staple diner items and homemade Latin American-influenced food.
Since 2019, Jojo’s has received nothing but support from local businesses and has continued to create new friendships and build its diner. Jojo’s plans to open a second location and add more offerings to its current menu. “We’re not trying to be a mediocre kind of place; we want to be a place you can be impressed with,” Glazeski said. “It’s worth coming back to try all the different things we offer.”
Whether pairing with a salty slab of ham, an early morning coffee, or a simple side of scrambled eggs, it’s safe to say that breakfast would be incomplete without a stack of these iconic griddle cakes. While some may see pancakes as an essential early morning meal item, others view these flat cakes as a work of art and enjoy experimenting with various patterns on the griddle. Pancakes continue to play a vital role as part of breakfast and carry nostalgia from the batter being poured to the very first bite of sweetness that hits the tongue.