Going strong for 37 years, the Annual Amigo de Vista Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast was held this past Saturday. Organizers were concerned about the turnout for this fund raiser that benefits youth sports in Vista. The previous day Vista was drenched with showers from a so-called “Monster Rainstorm” that was pounding the entire California coast. Vista’s streets were still damp when members of the club arrived to start their preparations.
By 7 am the roadways were drying up. However, small puddles of water sat in potholes and tiny rivulets could be seen seeping down the sides of Vista’s green hills. Dark skies loomed above the people that were arriving at the Gloria E McClellan Senior Center in Brengle Terrace Park. Was this event going to be successful or would the weather keep people at home? No! Not in Vista and not on this day.
Just before 7:30 am, I looked around and saw that the tables in the auditorium were filling fast. A line had formed from the small serving window located on one side of the large room. The aroma of pancakes and sausage wafted across tables where the hungry attendees were attacking their breakfast. We anxiously waited in line for our plates and found some seats. The pancakes were really light and flavorful. The sausage was mouthwatering. The scrambled eggs were perfect.
Young men and women navigated their way between the tables bringing water and hot coffee to the diners. Some of the servers were from Vista High School. They were members of the Girls Basketball team. These Panther athletes were accompanied by their coach and Athletic Director who told me he had been attending the breakfast for 20 years. The courteous servers cheerfully went from table to table asking what they could bring the people that were enjoying the yummy pancakes.
Not all of the young servers were from the High School. Three of the servers were actually with the City of Vista Youth Advisory Council. The council consists of eleven members who serve two-year terms. Recreation Manager Rob Anderson is the Staff Liaison. Rob was at the breakfast greeting families from Vista’s Youth Basketball League. Little Dunker & Little Lady Dunker Basketball team members could be identified by their team shirts. Wearing their tiaras and their purple & gold sashes 4 Miss Pride of Vista Princesses were also helping out.
Other coaches attended the breakfast. Basketball coach and Chamber of Commerce CEO, Bret Schanzenbach enjoyed the pancakes prepared by the Amigos de Vista Lions. City Council member and Basketball coach John Aguilera was on the kitchen patio flipping pancakes until he had to leave to meet his team for their Saturday game. From the looks of the crowd I’m sure there were more coaches in the crowded auditorium.
In a desire to find out why the pancakes were so delicious, I wandered into the kitchen for a journalistic investigation. In the back of the kitchen I found Ron Ward and Patrick Morroco placing sausage links on baking pans. The sausage I had just eaten with my pancakes had a mild delectable taste and I asked what kind of sausage they were. Ron pointed to the box that only identified the sausage as coming from Shamrock Foods and Pat gave me a wicked little smile and mischievously asked, “Do you really want to know what’s in the sausage?”
Going out onto the patio I found more of the Lion’s club attending to large grills where they were cooking and flipping pancakes. I said hi and headed back into the kitchen where I encountered the answer to my gastronomic quest. Rounding a corner and carrying a large kettle of fresh pancake batter was Bobby Jones. If you haven’t been to his Sunrise Café and tasted his food, you won’t understand how my seeing him carrying the batter made me understand why the pancakes were so tasty.
And just how tasty were the pancakes? Well, if I may, I would like to use one couple as an example. In the line for pancakes I spotted Dave Cowles the former Superintendent of Vista Unified School District and former City Council Member. He told me that he and his wife had flown into LAX the night before. They were returning from a trip and obviously would get into Vista late with the rainstorm. Some people would sleep in late, but here they were eager to get their pancakes (and maybe some coffee).
Most of the available seating was taken by 8 am and incoming families were heard directing their kids to single seats at different tables. I did notice that families quickly made room for newly arriving diners. By 9 am the line from the small kitchen window went along the wall of the auditorium and turned along the back wall to the entrance doors. From here the lines went out through the lobby, out the front doors, and onto the sidewalk. The pancakes kept flowing fast from the kitchen. Bobby Jones told me that they were expecting about 1300 people – people that would not leave hungry.
Despite the ominous skies overhead the day was beautiful and the Amigos de Vista Lions club 37th annual pancake breakfast was a big success. The breakfast featuring pancakes, sausage scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, orange juice, milk and coffee was available for a mere $5.00. The proceeds of the event benefited the Vista recreational basketball program that serves over 800 children and a portion of the proceeds goes to local charities in Vista.
Several local businesses sponsored the pancake breakfast. They were; Primo Market, Honey Bee Septic, Uppercrust Pizza, Aloha Printing & Sunrise Cafe. The Co-chairs for the pancake breakfast were Lion members Frank Wilhelm and Bobby Jones.