Restaurant Review: Brownstone Pancake House, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

The Mini Waffle Tower and carhop service at the Brownstone Pancake Factory

By Jonathan Spira on 27 May 2020
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Since the closure of restaurants in the United States amidst the coronavirus outbreak, I’ve had nary the opportunity to visit a restaurant, let alone write a restaurant review.  But there I was, in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, dining out, despite New Jersey’s lockdown.

Admittedly, I was still in the driver’s seat of my car in the restaurant’s parking lot when the waitress came to take my order.

Given that the last meals I had dining out were in restaurants in London and Vienna in early March, prior to the coronavirus becoming a pandemic, the opportunity to dine out was a treat, albeit a very different experience than that to which I was accustomed.

After a half-hour traffic-less drive, I arrived at the Brownstone Pancake House, right off the Palisades Parkway.

The restaurant’s owner, Bobby Bournias, had opened the first Brownstone Pancake House in 2014 in Edgewater and opened the second location four years later.

While Bournias only opened the restaurant for takeaway business as New Jersey entered lockdown mode, he soon had the foresight to envision a dining experience that is straight out of movies and television shows such as “American Graffiti” and “Happy Days,” namely the drive-in.   The restaurateur looked out at his expansive parking lot and came up with the idea of offering carhop service. By doing so, Bournias was following in the footsteps of Jessie Kirby and Reuben Johnson, who opened the very first drive-in restaurant, Kirby’s Pig Stand, in Dallas in 1921.

A carhop – for the uninitiated – is a waiter or waitress who serves customers by taking orders at the driver’s window and then delivering the food on a special tray that mounts onto the car’s open window. The tray is known as a carhop tray.  Please do not confuse a drive-in restaurant with a drive-through, such as what so many fast-food establishments offer merely to pick up food orders.

Click here to continue to Page 2Carhops and Mini Waffle Towers

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