For those unfamiliar with the concept, The Original Pancake House is a nationwide chain of approximately 130 restaurants that began in Portland in 1953 and has been serving breakfast and lunch (no dinner, no alcohol) in Dallas for 30 years. Known for its upscale food, from scratch cooking and global influences — everything from French crepes and rolled omelets to Swedish pancakes and huevos rancheros — the restaurant has grown to six (soon to be seven) locations across the Metroplex.
Mark David Bailey, CEO of OPH's Dallas-based franchisee, credits the restaurant's careful preparation of every dish for its success. "We take five days to make a pancake," Bailey explains. "We make our own sour starter. We allow it to grow for four days. We make a buttermilk culture on the side and allow it to blend for 24 hours."
As a result, Bailey affirms that the restaurant's fans range from "great grandma to little children to power business breakfast" and everyone in between. "We started out not particularly ambitious, not wanting to conquer the world. Just wanting to do a good job. We just found a lot of demand. People like us," he adds.
In response to constant emails from Houstonians demanding the company come south, it acquired a license to open in Houston. After five years of searching, the company has found a former location of Taipei China Bistro in Spring that's only a couple of blocks from the first Texas location of Chicago-based pizza chain Gino's East and, more importantly, close to both The Woodlands and Exxon's new Springwoods Village campus. While he concedes that he's somewhat "embarrassed" about the amount of time it took to settle on a location, Bailey says it was necessary.
"We serve the least expensive meals of the day. We have to be judicious with our capital to find a site that works," he explains. "It has plenty of parking. We find on Saturday and Sunday you can wait an hour to eat with us, and that site affords us that."
Pending the results of renovations, the restaurant will seat between 150 and 180 diners. That may not be enough to meet demand, but the company is already searching for additional locations in the Galleria and elsewhere. After a couple of years in the market, the company hopes to be able to open one new restaurant per year.
"Our fan base made it clear they want us in the city proper, not just outside," adds president Kevin Payne. "We hear consistently that there’s demand, and we’re convinced there’s further opportunity in the area."