Seattle’s Beth’s Cafe has been serving up pancakes and eggs with a surly smile, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the past 60 years.
“We’re known as a greasy spoon and that’s what we’re proud of. We’ve never said that we’re fancy and we like that,” says general manager, Janelle Norviel.
Chris Dalton bought the joint 12 years ago.
“Beth’s Cafe opened in 1954 by Beth and Harold Eisenstadt,” says Chris. “It opened as a nickel slots parlor and they figured a better way to keep people there was to start making food.”
Beth’s Cafe is legendary. Whether you’re a drunk mohawk-ed punk rocker soaking up the booze at 4 a.m. or a 4-year-old out to breakfast with your granny, you’ll be given crayons and paper. So the walls are plastered with hand scrawled drawings. And Beth’s is best known for its gut bombing 12-egg omelets.
“The most popular omelet right now is called the Triple Bypass,” Chris says. “Bacon, sausage, ham, eight pieces of cheese. That comes with the hash browns and the toast.”
Six years ago, the world was exposed to Beth’s when “Man v. Food” host Adam Richman attempted to take down the 12-egg southwestern omelet.
“It’s a 12-egg omelet with two bowls of chili inside,” says Janelle. “We make our own chili by hand here. Sour cream, salsa, cheddar cheese, hash browns and toast. He got within two bites and just couldn’t finish it.”
Janelle says the super-sized omelet was never meant to inspire competition. The omelets are meant for sharing.
“The people that look like they’re slowing down, we encourage them to slow down. The aftermath of them not slowing down usually isn’t too pretty,” she says.
Has she ever seen someone throw up?
Janelle has been coming to Beth’s since she was a little girl.
“Every once in a while, after church, we’d get to go out and most of the time we’d go to the Twin Teepees. Every once in a while, we’d come here. My grandparents tell me stories about going bowling and drinking too much and winding up here at three in the morning in 1960. My parents used to do the same thing. I used to do the same thing, (at) 21 years old – roll into the door of Beth’s Cafe like, ‘Man, we need some food’ and it’s 3 a.m. and there’s no other place we’d want to go other than here.”
Now it’s her home away from home.
“I love telling people that I work here. I love telling people that I run the place. No, I run Beth’s Cafe!”
Beth’s is showing no signs of slowing down.
“Hash browns are fresh cut. We go through about a ton a week,” says Chris. “Literally, a ton of hash browns a week. Somewhere around 9,000 eggs a week. We did the math and I think it comes out to about 450,000 a year, lot of eggs – we get three deliveries a day.”
Part of Beth’s charm is the servers and cooks, who range from sweet-as-the-Amish-friendship-bread they serve to surly gals who will kick you out if you give them any guff at three in the morning. But Janelle says its all in good fun.
“If you can’t have fun at work, why bother showing up? It’s a hard job, it’s a really hard job sometimes. But I encourage people, as soon as the actual job is done, please have some fun while you’re here, customers and staff, alike.”
In honor of its 60th anniversary, Beth’s is offering specials through June 8. A portion of the proceeds will go to the foster child non-profit, Treehouse.
The week’s specials:
Biscuits and Gravy $2.50
Mini Time Warp Breakfast #1
One Egg, Hash Browns and Toast $3.50
Mini Time Warp Breakfast #2
One Egg, Hash Browns, Toast and Two Sausage $4.50
Any Regular Soda $.60
Cup of Chili $.60
Amish Friendship Bread $.60