Despite the restrictions on public gatherings and other events due to COVID-19, the Bainbridge Civic Club’s popular pancake breakfasts will be offered this year in a very special way. The pandemic has changed everything, so instead of a sit-down event, the pancake meals will be offered in a drive-up and take-out format from 8 a.m. to noon March 7 and March 14 at Kenston High School. Meals will be delivered to patrons’ cars. If successful, the event may be extended to March 21, organizers said.
The plan calls for ordering and paying for the meals on the civic club’s website, thecivicclub.org, and then driving to the high school to pick them up at a designated day and time. The last week of the event in 2020 had to be canceled due coronavirus health restrictions.
The Bainbridge club is just one of the groups switching to drive-up service this year. Atwood-Mauck American Legion Post 459, for example, is offering only take-out pancake breakfasts every Sunday through April 18, except April 4, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 14052 Goodwin St. in Burton.
Founded in 1941, the Bainbridge Civic Club’s mission is “Neighbors helping neighbors.” The pancake breakfasts were started in 1952 and serve as a fundraiser for worthy community causes.
In the past, the breakfasts were held first at Bainbridge Town Hall. When the event outgrew the facilities there, the civic club moved to the Betty Patton Room at the former Kenston High School, now the middle school. Eventually, the civic club moved to the new high school dining area, according to longtime civic club member Henri Preuss.
He noted that former Kenston Superintendent Robert Lee invited the civic club to the new high school when it opened. The kitchen has modern equipment and space to accommodate more than 200 people, Mr. Preuss said.
Members of the Bainbridge Women’s Club previously helped with registering volunteers and organizing the table settings, while Kenston High School students, school groups and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and the Kenston Honor Society helped with the serving, even washing pots and pans, Mr. Preuss said. “It’s a tremendous output.”
Past breakfasts have served as both a fundraiser and a meeting place for residents, said Mr. Preuss. “People are visiting together and enjoying it. The school is so fantastic in what it does to help us. It’s enjoyment for everyone.”
One thing won’t change, the cooks in the kitchen. “The civic club members work hard in the kitchen, but they enjoy it and all the good things that go with the event.” Mr. Preuss said.
Civic Club President Justin Ryan noted how the pancake breakfasts started with a civic club member making maple syrup and another member who grew wheat on his farm. They used the products to make a dinner for the club members and then that evolved into the pancake breakfasts.
Kenston High School has a commercial-grade kitchen with space available for the civic club’s five or six griddles, Mr. Ryan said. “We need a lot of space.” On average, they cook up about 3,000 to 4,000 pancakes each day of the event and they serve about 1,000 meals.
Longtime club member Jerry Moreno organizes the volunteers for the event. “We ordinarily have a couple hundred working at the breakfasts,” he said. This year of course there will be far less.
“Next year, we’ll be back to about 10 different groups, and I will be contacting parents and students,” he said. He has signed up the volunteers for March’s events. Club member Greg Koltas is organizing the part of the process that will include students serving as runners.
“It is a tradition of spring,” Mr. Ryan said of the pancake breakfasts. “It’s a community event, and we work to make it good.
“We really hope people will enjoy this. We know it’s not the same when people enjoy the traditional event sitting at the tables, but we hope they will take the opportunity to enjoy the offerings this year,” he said.
The orders have to be submitted and prepaid through the club’s website. The time for pick-ups will be designated in 15-minute increments.
Visit thecivicclub.org to begin placing orders. There will be two options, a small meal for $6 and a large meal for $8. The meals generally include different flavors of pancakes, a sausage and a French toast
The civic club purchases the sausage from Mazzulo’s Market in Bainbridge. “The sausage is always a fan favorite among diners and the civic club cooks it up,” according to Mr. Ryan.
Funds raised by the civic club through the pancake breakfasts support a variety of causes including scholarships to graduating seniors, Mr. Ryan said.
Some of the organizations the club has supported include the Impact Award to include Bainbridge Food for Friends pantry, Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, Pets for Vets, which pairs veterans with rescue animals, and Two Café and Boutique in Bainbridge. The civic club also sponsors the holiday lighting displays in Bainbridge as well.
“Hopefully 2022 will be normal,” Mr. Ryan said of going back to serving the pancake meals inside at the high school dining area. “The event brings the community together and it is a celebration of the coming of spring, and we hope to offer the breakfasts for many years to come.”