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America Sits Down to Breakfast

Monitor writers report from four cities, coast-to-coast, about the meal that weekend diners love to linger over


At 10 o'clock on a cool and cloudy Saturday morning, the line is growing outside Julia's. What are they waiting for?

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"Poppyseed pancakes, ... or cinnamon rolls," says William Hilburn as a waitress steps outside to call him to a table.

Mr. Hilburn, a Julia's regular on weekends, has brought two out-of-town friends to this popular but intimate restuarant nestled in a residential neighborhood north of Seattle's center.

Inside, a cozy warmth and bustling atmosphere awaits them, with the smell of omelets and fresh-made berry coffeecake wafting through the air. The menu offers classic breakfast foods, usually with a regional, ethnic, or experimental twist.

Jackie Humes, for whom breakfast at Julia's is also a weekend rite, is a devotee of the "tofu breakfast special" or "French toast a l'orange" (with orange butter and syrup), while her husband Dave prefers Mexican-style eggs.

"Sometimes we go both days" on weekends "when we're feeling very indulgent," she says.

Restaurant manager Karsten Betd says business has been brisk for both breakfast and lunch ever since Julia's opened nine years ago.

Speaking in an accent from his native Germany, he attributes the success to "very healthy food." (The portions are healthy, too, judging by the substantial size of a "half" bowl of "hot Scotch oats," a firm oatmeal made with grain that has been steel-cut rather than rolled.)

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"We've always set very high standards," Mr. Betd adds. Julia's restaurant has banned smoking from the start, he says. But it has also cultivated an informal atmosphere. "We call it fresh, friendly, fun."

The place is pretty full for breakfast even on weekdays, but only on Saturday and Sunday does a line build up outside, he says.

While many people come here almost every day, a number of those waiting outside say breakfast here is not a regular event, but more a treat for special occasions.

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