As The Original Pancake Kitchen has been around for many years (since 1965), there are quite a few stories I could tell you but I will stick to the main facts as I know them. This may, or may not be totally correct as I have but together bits and pieces form stories, old papers, newspaper clippings and general gossip.
The idea for a Pancake Restaurant was first conceived in 1959 while Roger Meadmore and Allan Trascall were on a driving trip in America. They would frequently stop at road side restaurants where pancakes were a favourite on the menu.
Seeing how well pancakes were received by the American population they thought it would be a great idea to bring to Australia.
With the idea fresh in their minds, they made enquiries on how to go about opening a Pancake Restaurant in Adelaide. The first problem they had was with how wheat was germinated and processed in Australia at that time, it was too course to make light fluffy pancakes. They overcame this by importing from America Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, eventually after 10 years a local Australian company was able to produce a product that could equal the American style pancakes.
The first Pancake Restaurant was opened at 13 Gilbert Place Adelaide in 1965 known to most Adelaidians as “The Pancake Kitchen”.
They had little money but great expectations. The only place they could afford was a burnt out delicatessen which they paid only 5 pounds per week to rent. It was small yet cozy and had a very unique feel about it.
When they announced that they would only sell pancakes at this new restaurant, people laughed, they didn’t think a restaurant that only sold one type of food would work. But curiosity got the better people and they came, in droves, to try the pancakes.
The first customer to be served was a man named Bill Hickling (and yes, Bill was still around in Adelaide in 2006, he came back to The Original Pancake Kitchen that year).
It was quite chaotic in that first phase of the business as they didn’t have a menu, their motto was “Come into the kitchen and tell us how you’d like your pancakes”. Luckily the customers were good natured as they washed their own dishes and serviced their own tables, some of them were made honorary staff members for the evening.
A friend and a patron of The Pancake Kitchen suggested that they put together a menu, it would make it easier for both the customers and the cooks. Peter Von Czarnecki and Ken Ellis from the Adelaide Advertiser crated the first menu (we still have a copy hanging on the wall in the Restaurant, it says “please pay in new dollars” what ever that means?) The menu featured Victorian Type figures dancing and carrying on and whimsical character figures which added to the unique atmosphere that was being created and is an intrical part of the uniqueness’ The Original Pancake Kitchen has today..
The Restaurant was taking on a life of its own and more space was needed to sit all the customers. Next door was a Hungarian Restaurant called “The Point Four Restaurant”, expansion was needed so a door was put in the wall and more seats made available (known to us as the “P” room), but this was still not enough. Their was a small back room with a chimney in it, so another doorway when in here and more seating made available (we call this the “C” room), but it still wasn’t enough room. So another room was tacked on out the back of the restaurant and when it was first put their it was painted bright yellow (we call this “Y” room).
A new chapter started at The Pancake Kitchen with the first Adelaide Festival of Arts. The idea for opening 24 hours a day was put forth. This was for several reasons, they were finding that with the festival on the afternoon shift were finishing work at 3-4am in the morning and the day shift were starting at 5am in the morning, so they decided to just stay open.. The milk shift was created, midnight to 8am (it was called the milk shift because the milk would always be delivered on this shift, and it still is today). After the festival had finished the Adelaide people liked the idea of having somewhere to supper after hours that the milk shift (known to us as the milky) became a constant thing and it still it today.
The Partnership started to dissolve between Alan and Roger. Alan moved onto Melbourne to open up the Pancake Parlour Restaurant chain and Roger moved to Sydney to open Pancakes on the Rocks. The Pancake Kitchen was sold to one or the then managers and it continued to service Adelaide.
In 1997 Mike and Carole Forshaw took over The Pancake Kitchen. They themselves were former managers their in the 1970’s. they did not want to become part of the Pancake Parlour chain of restaurants so they changed the name to “Gilbert Place Pancake House”
In 2006 we changed the name again to “the Original Pancake Kitchen” and we continue to thrive. We have become an Adelaide icon, a place where people can come and feel welcome. Some come to reminisce over the good old days, others to be a part of history and quite a lot come because it’s fun, a place where you can get great food and great service but for what ever reason they come to The Original Pancake Kitchen they always have a uniquely original dining experience.