Middletown Pancake House offers breakfast, lunch, and pancakes

MIDDLETOWN — Shortly after moving from her native Greece to New Jersey at age 7, Kitsa Mavrode and her family made a name for themselves in the restaurant industry.

And today, as co-owner of Middletown Pancake House in Middletown, Mavrode and his team continue to bring their passion to the decades-old institution, serving a range of breakfast and lunch dishes that have kept community members coming back for generations.

“My Uncle Louis owned restaurants and I worked for him as a waitress and front desk person all through high school,” said Mavrode, who grew up in Union and Middlesex counties and currently lives in Tinton Falls.

“In 1986, my family purchased an existing restaurant in Middletown that had once been a Perkins and had since been renamed Middletown Pancake House,” Mavrode said. “My dad Steve was a cook/chef and everything he did was from scratch – from our homemade soups and rice pudding to our pancake batter, buttermilk pancakes, hash browns and more,” said she declared.

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Mavrode earned a business degree at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison and eventually married and moved to Maryland with her husband, “but we came back within a year because my parents had bought the restaurant and had needed help and we wanted to raise our children around family,” she said.

Once back, she and her family members settled into a successful routine at the restaurant, with her father as the cook and her, her mother Kathy and her sister Betsy managing the dining room operations.

Although her parents have since passed, “I currently own the Middletown Pancake House with partners, of which I am the operating partner,” Mavrode said of the cozy restaurant, which is open for breakfast and lunch every day. days except Tuesdays and offers much more than its name suggests.

“Customers come from as close as Middletown and as far away as North Jersey, Staten Island and Brooklyn for iconic items like our Buttermilk Pancakes (made from a 36-year-old proprietary pancake batter recipe) , French toast, homemade gluten-free potato pancakes and banana bread as well as our chef’s soups, paninis, specialty sandwiches, juicy burgers and fresh omelettes – we’re more than just pancakes,” he said. she declared.

Kitsa Mavrode, owner, stands inside Middletown Pancake House in Middletown, NJ on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

“We have a huge menu with salads, burritos, quesadillas and waffles as well as creative pancake flavors like cinnamon roll, walnut caramel and Oreo, and we also make our own lattes, small-batch cold brew coffee and in-house iced tea along with a range of smoothies and milkshakes,” Mavrode said.

“I love to cook and bake and I’m responsible for creating unique recipes,” Mavrode said of one of her favorite roles. “All the staff (and some customers!) test the creations and if they are deemed ‘delicious’, I teach my kitchen team how to prepare them. »

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Respect for traditions

Now in operation for nearly four decades, “we’ve undergone three renovations since we’ve owned the restaurant,” said Mavrode, who also confirmed other changes over the years. “For example, we used to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, but now we only focus on breakfast and lunch, which can be enjoyed all day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. h. »

“We are working hard to continue to evolve to meet the needs of our customers, such as adding hot and spicy entrees and many gluten-free and vegan menu items made from scratch in-house,” she said. .

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While the menu has expanded over the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is the name of the restaurant.

“A few years ago, our sign was destroyed by a storm and we had to replace it,” recalls Mavrode. “We considered changing our name at that time because we are not just pancakes. It was a tough decision, as we have such a varied menu, but ultimately we left our name unchanged as we are a historic icon in our city. Since then we like to say we are “Middletown Pancake House and so much more”.

Another long-standing feature of the 200-seat restaurant is its role as a hub for a variety of family gatherings. “We decorate for the holidays, welcome Santa and the Easter Bunny when they’re in town, and see ‘kids’ of all ages enjoy the excitement and the memories year after year,” he said. she declared.

“In addition to our three main dining rooms, we also have a private dining room that can accommodate up to 60 people for various events including communions, birthdays, retirement parties, corporate and networking meetings. , bridal showers and more,” Mavrode said. “Many sports teams also come for team events or after a game.”

Middletown Pancake House in Middletown, NJ on Wednesday April 27, 2022.

Among the trends, “we’re seeing some people prefer to order takeout rather than dine in,” said Mavrode, which is integrated with DoorDash, Grubhub and UberEats to meet that desire.

“Also, many diners appreciate combo platters that offer a bit of everything — like French toast, pancakes, eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns — so they don’t have to order them separately. People also like to personalize their dishes, which is why our do-it-yourself omelet and pancake options are popular,” she said. “We respond to requests from our customers and if we have the ingredients and something can be cooked or prepared, we will gladly do so. We even made six and ten egg omelettes on request!”

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A Southwestern three-egg omelette, made with pepper jack cheese, cilantro, peppers, onions, sausage and pico de gallo, and served with three buttermilk pancakes, at Middletown Pancake House in Middletown, NJ on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

A family at the service of generations of families

Currently supported by 13 team members and looking to hire more, Mavrode said a number of factors continue to challenge their operations. “On the one hand,” she said, “costs have risen so much recently for everything from meat, chicken, eggs, flour, coffee and soda to fuel and utilities, and we’ve absorbed these growing expenses in an effort to keep our prices affordable for customers.”

She also expects to see costs rise for straws, take-out utensils, wrappers and cups as the restaurant complies with the state’s ban on certain plastics, which goes into effect in May.

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As they handle the challenges that come their way, the camaraderie remains high at the popular restaurant.

“We are a very positive place and our team is great; they love their job and know what I expect,” Mavrode said. “We have a lot of teamwork and strive to take care of our customers. In light of the difficulties of the pandemic, we truly appreciate our wonderful customers and are grateful that we were able to stay open and operational.

“At the end of the day, we’re a family restaurant that’s served generations of families and places like ours don’t necessarily last that long,” acknowledged Mavrode, who appreciates that kids who once dined or worked in Middletown Pancake House are coming back now. dine with their own children. “We hope to continue to improve our menu, bringing the restaurant to its fullest and satisfying customers.”

As for what inspires her the most, “I love seeing people come with their families and have a great dining experience,” Mavrode said. “We are delighted to be able to continue to offer members of the community this special destination and tradition. We want everyone who comes to feel like part of our family.”

Middletown Pancake House Family Restaurant

Location: 1610 Route 35, Middletown

Call: 732-671-1145

Managing owner: Kitsa Mavrode

Open: 1986 (under current ownership)

Social media: MiddletownPancake House (Facebook)

Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Monday

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