We pour a lot of ourselves in to The Pancake Shop. For so many of us, it is more than a business – it is our home. We want you to feel welcome the minute you walk in our door, and strive to treat you as if you were a guest at our own table.
If you’re having breakfast with us on a Saturday or Sunday morning, chances are you may have to wait for a table. Not to worry! The host will steer you next door to The Savory Pantry, where you’ll be met with hot coffee, some great music, and samples of specialty foods from around the world while you wait. Ask our friendly staff for suggestions on things to do after breakfast – walks in the national park, a visit to our many art galleries, or a thermal bath – downtown Hot Springs has a lot to offer and we’ll do our best to help make your time there memorable!
Once inside, get ready for a unique dining experience. We do things in the traditional way, and our menu hasn’t changed much in the last 70 years. Your orange juice will be fresh squeezed the morning you arrive. Our pancakes are made from scratch and will be served with butter and warm maple syrup. Our sausage is homemade and our ham has won awards across the country. Your eggs will be cooked to perfection, just the way you want them. Your breakfast will be prepared to order – no fast food here. We’ll re-fill your coffee cup until you tell us to stop. We want you to be happy. And we want you to come back and bring your friends!
The Pancake Shop has a dedicated staff, many of whom have been with us for decades! They know the ropes and will work hard to make sure you have a pleasant experience. From the front door to the back, we’d put our team up against any other.
It’s been a privilege to have many wonderful people walk through our door over the years. The best part is having them come back! If you make a trip to Hot Springs the same time each year, as a lot of our visitors do, you just might see a familiar face or two sitting next to you at The Pancake Shop.
We’ve also been host to a number of celebrities over the years. You’ll find many of their pictures displayed on the wall. If you’re here in the spring during the live race meet at Oaklawn Park, chances are you’ll run in to hall of fame trainers and jockeys. In June you’ll meet world class musicians as Hot Springs hosts the Hot Springs Music Festival. And during the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, held each October, we’ll be feeding filmmakers from around the globe.
The Pancake Shop has been serving breakfast exclusively since 1940. As one of the oldest family-owned and operated restaurants in the state, we have a long history of cooking home-style breakfasts for our loyal family of customers.
The original restaurant was owned by Albah D. Mason and operated under the name of Mason’s Pancake Shop. It was located at 133 Central Avenue, across the street from our current location and today the site of The Spring Hotel. If you look closely, you’ll find the original menu from Mason’s Pancake Shop still hanging on the wall. Coffee then was a nickel a cup!
Sometime in the 1950’s (we’re not sure of the year) the restaurant was purchased by Chuck and Olive Conway of Chicago. The Conway’s changed the name to The Pancake Shop and moved it across the street to our current location at 216 Central Avenue. The present space had been home to several other restaurants and businesses over the years, including The Liberty Café, a souvenir photo shop, and, for many years, The Italian Kitchen, owned and operated by an Italian immigrant by the name of Amedeo Ritenuti. A recent visitor to the restaurant relayed a story of how, as a boy, he delivered Italian delicacies from Chicago to Amedeo’s Italian Kitchen.
The Pancake Shop was purchased by my parents, Tom and Ruth Ardman, on May 15th, 1966, when I was six years old. My father was the primary face of the business until he fell ill in the late seventies. When he passed away in 1980, my mother stepped in, and The Pancake Shop flourished under her leadership. I grew up in the restaurant, and watched my mother closely. With her very elegant and personal style, she greeted everyone with her warm smile and reveled in the fact that she was the oldest merchant on Central Avenue. I joined my mother in the business in 1995, and had the pleasure of working with her for almost ten years. She passed away in 2004, and is greatly missed by all who knew her. Her customers remember her fondly, and that encourages us to work hard to fill her very large shoes!
In 1998 we started shipping the ham and sausage served in The Pancake Shop to a few customers who requested it. Little did we know that our fledgling mail order business would become The Savory Pantry, a specialty food store and mail order business providing customers across the country with the finest in specialty foods and food related gifts.
My husband Steve joins me in the restaurant on weekends (he’s also the chairman of a Little Rock based financial advisory firm) and together we’ll make sure you have a wonderfully memorable breakfast experience!
We look forward to welcoming you to Hot Springs and The Pancake Shop!
Keely Ardman DeSalvo