The Original Pancake House in Scottsdale has been serving breakfast since 1988

Palm trees sway behind an off-white adobe building with teal awnings on Camelback Road, just east of 68th Street. The little restaurant near Scottsdale Fashion Square, attached to a Motel 6, has been here since 1988. It’s not particularly fancy like the places around it, and you could walk past it and not even know it was there, disappearing into the glitz and glamor of Old Town Scottsdale.

The Original Pancake House is a humble joint, a place where cushioned booths and speckled tables hold coffee in white porcelain cups. People sit on wooden stools at the counter to watch the chefs prepare their breakfast stacks and burritos.

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The Original Pancake House has been serving pancakes and eggs in Old Town Scottsdale since 1988.

Natasha Yee

Ron Horton, known as “The Pancake Man”, is the one behind the magic. He opened the restaurant, a 29-state chain franchise, in 1988. He and his then-wife Nancy Horton moved to Scottsdale from Illinois four years earlier and he tried his hand at other industries before franchising breakfast, working as commodities. broker and go to school for real estate.

Before that, he studied philosophy at Marquette University in Milwaukee in the 1960s. The wisdom Horton gleaned seems to have stayed with him.

“You don’t just give up when times get tough. That’s what measures a person,” he says, in his soft-spoken demeanor, seated in a booth near the host’s booth.

Click to enlarge Surrounded by Scottsdale Glitz, The Original Pancake House has been making stacks since 1988 (9)

French pancakes are topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Connie Miller

Horton has an old-fashioned type of grit. He went unpaid for two years after opening the restaurant, going through a short recession in 1990 that only made things worse. The restaurant industry is not for the faint of heart, he says.

“I don’t think most people know what they’re getting into. Before opening a restaurant, ask yourself if you have the stamina to make it happen?”

Horton has come through the past 34 years with grace. Some of that courage and grace, he says, he learned at his high school in Illinois where he was one of seven black students out of a student body of 3,500. There he was co-captain of the track team.

“You can make color a differentiator if you want, but I wasn’t raised to feel that way,” he says.

Horton joined business and civic groups when he moved to metro Phoenix in 1984 to familiarize himself with the terrain, refusing to feel like an outsider.

“I wouldn’t want to be anything other than black because I know your fight will never be as hard as mine,” he says. “And in the end, my success will be greater.”

Since the restaurant opened in the late 80s, it has been serving dishes like the Dutch Baby, a descendant of the German pancake that puffs up like a soufflé when cooked in a cast iron skillet inside a hot oven, then falls off when removed. . Topped with powdered sugar and served with whipped butter and lemon, it’s one of Horton’s favorite dishes alongside 49’er Flapjacks, plate-sized pancakes similar to those miners have eaten during the California Gold Rush in 1849.

Click to enlarge Surrounded by Scottsdale Glitz, The Original Pancake House has been making stacks since 1988 (11)

The Dutch Baby is Ron Horton’s personal favourite. It puffs up like a soufflé in the oven, then falls back when served.

Connie Miller

The restaurant offers short stacks of their pancakes and “juniors” of some of their specialty items for health conscious customers.

Restaurants come and go frequently in Scottsdale, but Horton stays at his humble restaurant alongside manager Connie Miller, who has been there for 17 years.

Prior to working at the Original Pancake House, Miller ran a sub-store in Arcadia with her husband Jim for 25 years. She kinda knows how to keep the regulars happy.

Click to enlarge Surrounded by Scottsdale Glitz, The Original Pancake House has been making stacks since 1988 (8)

Guests can enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Original Pancake House.

Natasha Yee

“I get people’s names and remember them. We have a lot of regulars,” Miller says, pointing to a customer getting off his candy apple red motorbike. “She rides here on this thing every day, such a badass! Can you believe that?”

Horton maintains a level of familiarity with the customers, stopping to say hello to a family or asking how the food was several times throughout our conversation. Amid the high pace and brilliance of Scottsdale, the Original Pancake House is an intimate place to slow down with pancakes, bacon, French pancakes and sunny eggs with friends and family. Horton favors the classic way of doing things.

“For 27 years I had a sign on the door that said turn off your phone. We only had cash until 2015,” he says, pointing to an ATM in the corner that now says “Out of Order”.

Click to enlarge Surrounded by Scottsdale Glitz, The Original Pancake House has been making stacks since 1988 (6)

Promotions are on the board and thank yous from guests fill the wall.

Natasha Yee

All of the stories from years past elicit some curiosity, but Horton isn’t amused by the new line of questioning. “I don’t say my age,” he says.

Horton looks around, satisfied with what he has built. He thinks about the future, spends time with his five stepchildren and enjoys life without too much fuss.

“I’m going to sell this restaurant one of these days,” he says. “But I put so much blood and sweat and tears into it. I don’t know if other people are ready to do all that.”

The original creperie

6840 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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