Richard Walker’s Pancake House opens in Flower Hill
The new Richard Walker’s Pancake House is now fulfilling breakfast cravings at Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar.
Richard Walker Jr. owns this fourth San Diego location of the family-owned and operated restaurants. The former coffee shop space inside Flower Hill has been completely transformed with a 50/50 blend of indoor and outdoor seating, vaulted ceilings with skylights and the restaurant’s signature stained glass.
Just like the downtown location owned by his father and Walker Jr.’s two locations in La Jolla and Carlsbad, their traditional pancakes start with fresh buttermilk batter, a recipe passed down over generations in flavors like blueberry, cherry, banana, fresh strawberry and Georgia pecan—those who cannot bring themselves to pick just one can opt for a pancake flight with their choice of three.
The menu includes over 100 items made from scratch daily including the Northern Bacon pancake stuffed with real chopped bacon; the giant baked German pancake comes sprinkled in powdered sugar; and the cant-miss baked apple pancake with fresh Granny Smith apple slices and imported pure cinnamon glaze: “It’s what put us on the map,” said Walker Jr.
Many of the delicious pancake flavors also come in Belgian waffle form and the menu also includes 20 different egg dishes and sweet and savory gourmet crepes. Walker said you can’t go wrong with an order of their special recipe, thick-sliced bacon.
Richard Walker’s is also well-known for its ground-fresh, rich and full-bodied coffee, so fresh “it was a bean 90 seconds ago.” The restaurant serves up their coffee with heavy whipping cream which Walker Jr. said nobody does except them at the Ritz Carlton. “My mom says it’s like drinking a warm doughnut,” he said.
The sign above the door at Flower Hill reads: “Since 1948”, a nod to the pancakes stacked throughout the Walker family history.
Walker Jr.s grandfather Victor and his brother Everett started off in the food business running a snack shop in Evanston, Ill. before opening up the Walker Bros. Original Pancake House in Wilmette, Ill in 1960. Victor’s sons Ray and Richard Walker Sr. took on the family business and opened a pancake house together in 1981; in 1989 Richard Sr. went out on his own to open his first Richard Walker’s Pancake House. He opened a second location in Illinois before moving to San Diego in 2004 and bringing the family tradition to the Gaslamp District.
Walker Jr. grew up in the pancake house, taking on various roles to help out. He was determined to make his own way in the world: he graduated with a triple major with honors from the University of Iowa and became a program management advisor for Ernst & Young, serving clients in 60 countries and 49 states.
Walker Jr. followed his father west in 2014 from Chicago and with every penny saved in his 13-year career, opened up the La Jolla location. In 2019, he opened up his second location in Carlsbad with a steady eye on another North County spot.
Moving from East Village to the Del Mar Heights area, he was splitting time between La Jolla and Carlsbad every day: when the Flower Hill location became available he immediately jumped on it.
They were midway through construction when the pandemic hit and Walker had to make a difficult decision as an entrepreneur. He had put so much into building this new restaurant that he had to push through—as much as it hurt financially, he was committed to his employees and to his new landlords at Flower Hill to make something positive happen.
“It was a better choice to open up into the calamity,” Walker said, noting despite the “horrible” economic time, his other two restaurants were faring well; the La Jolla community particularly has been especially supportive of his business.
The new Del Mar eatery opened on Monday, June 22, taking care to follow every county health guideline and install every possible safety measure including plexiglass barriers between the booths.
“That first Sunday the dining room was filled all the way up, with social distancing, and it felt so good,” Walker said. “It was great.”
They were able to enjoy indoor dining for two weeks before that was shut down and they were forced to move outside— thankfully, they have ample outside seating with brightly colored booths and tables that are shaded with fans, looking out over the interior Flower Hill courtyard.
Dealing with the twists and turns of the pandemic as a small, family-owned, family-funded business has admittedly been extremely challenging. But Walker remains confident that Del Mar can be successful.
“All of our locations are holding their own and we will absolutely get through this better and stronger,” Walker said. “But we can’t do it without the support of the public.”
He hopes to meet much of the local community over coffee and pancakes: “We’re here to stay on Via De La Valle in Del Mar.”
Richard Walker’s Pancake House is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 2670 Via De La Valle. They offer outside dining, curbside pick-up, carryout and delivery. For more visit, richardwalkers.com or call 858-925-7171.
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