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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hasty Tasty Pancake House

I'll make no secret of the fact that the Hasty Tasty Pancake house has become one of my favorite places for breakfast in the Dayton area. I'd never heard of them before moving here, but I look for an excuse to visit them now.

The first time we visited, probably 5 years ago, the experience was mixed. On the one hand, the majority of the place was filled with smoke from smokers, and the "nonsmoking" section, although marked that way, might just as well have been the smoking section too, because all that smoke blew over there. That has changed, since the whole place is nonsmoking now. The other irritant I remember from our first visit was that we happened to sit right next to an overactive children's novelty machine, which made various blaring noises and had moving lights. On the several times I've been back, that machine has been much more subdued.

Your first impression when visiting will likely be the sign. It reminds me of an iconic hotel sign on route 40 on the west side of Columbus - lots of neon, a big "swoosh" symbol - classic Americana. When you go inside, you'll be impressed with the various late 40's to early 60's nostalgia on the walls. They have magazines, signs, comic books, records, various consumer goods - lots of curiosities to spend a moment gawking at. They also have one of those "penny squishers", so for 51 cents you can get a token of your visit.

The restaurant originally had drive-in service, so they even have a menu (with the old prices & such) on a pole that they cut off and preserved. The focus on the memorabilia and even the music in the place is the 1950's, which makes sense, because the restaurant was started in 1952. Over time, they expanded until at one point Hasty Tasty Pancake House became a chain with 19 locations. Had the original owner decided to franchise the setup at that point, it is quite possible that today there might be a Hasty Tasty Pancake House in every decent sized burgh east of the Mississippi today, instead of a Waffle House. However, the founder was getting along in years, and decided that there would be more profit in selling off some of the buildings for other uses, and leasing others. Over time, all of the locations closed except for the one at 3509 Linden Avenue.

On to the food. About 1/3 of the tables were full when we arrived. I ordered "The Super", which comes with 3 eggs, bacon AND sausage (not "or", like a lot of other places), home fries (hash browns that aren't all that browned) and a whole huge plate of biscuits & gravy. My son got #2 kids meal, and wife got pancakes, eggs & sausage. We ordered at 8:58, and the food was delivered at 9:06. Yep, just 8 minutes! Plus, they brought the bill just a minute after the food. I always love it when places do that - it lets you pay right away when you are done, instead of hanging around trying to get someone's attention, waiting more for the check, and then finally paying. It saves a lot of time, and I'd like to see more places do it this way.

All of the food was good. The sausage had good flavor, yet was not too heavily spiced. Bacon was nice and crispy. Eggs were done as I had asked. You get such nice sized portions of food at this place that you should never leave hungry. In fact, they seem to have it balanced just right - I always feel full after eating here, yet I don't believe I've ever had any leftover food. The waitress was very observant and helpful - she brought us finger wipes for the baby after our meal. The music playing in the background was excellent, and not too loud or soft to enjoy. If I was being nitpicky, probably the only thing I could even possibly stretch to complain about was that the hash browns tend to not be as browned or as crispy as I like - but then again, I didn't ask to have them well done. If you like yours crispy, ask them to crisp them a bit longer, and you should get good results.

Hasty Tasty Pancake House
3509 Linden Avenue (north side, between Smithville & Woodman)
telephone: 254-8431
Hours: 5am to 10pm 7 days a week
breakfast served any time

Dayton Dining

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