“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” my mother often intoned. Her second frequent message about how to lead my life was, “focus on what you’re doing!” John Gelastopoulos must have been hiding behind the door because he certainly applied both messages to the way he built his business.
Gelastopoulos founded Broken Yolk Café, a niche restaurant that is open only until 3 p.m., serving only breakfast and lunch. He understood the urgency of starting the day right, as reflected in all the advertising in our culture for breakfast cereals and the like. He also wanted to specialize and focus on what he was doing – making the best morning dishes. He’s been doing so for 34 years.
The original Broken Yolk Café was opened in the Sports Arena area but, after a few years, the location was moved to Pacific Beach, not too far from the ocean. Business operators came in for early breakfasts, sunbathers came in to stoke up for lying on the sand, tourists were sent by concierge — in short, the business prospered. The reasons — everything is fresh, made to order and portions are substantial.
The menu is extensive. There are over 20 omelets offered, as well as pancakes, waffles, French toast and other breakfast items. Breakfast is served all day.
Among the favorite items, eggs Florentine are near the top of the list of special dishes — toasted English muffin topped with fresh spinach, two poached eggs covered with hollandaise sauce. Three egg omelets inspired by our southern neighbor, Mexico, include huevos rancheros — grilled corn tortilla topped with two eggs and salsa, guacamole, beans and flour tortillas. And, machaca — two eggs scrambled with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, jack cheese and shredded beef. Or, fire up the day with the very spicy and delicious China syndrome – eggs.jalapenos, Ortega chiles, green onions and jack cheese topped with chili.
Portions are large but Broken Yolk offers a unique challenge to the iron man or iron woman. In this case, “iron” refers to a cast iron stomach. The challenge is to consume totally a dozen-egg omelet filled with mushrooms, onions and American cheese smothered with chili and more cheese, served on a 15-inch pizza pan with a generous pile of home fries and two biscuits. This is for just one person and must be consumed in one hour. Winners get their names placed on a plaque on the Hall of Fame.
Lunch dishes follow the success formula — lots of food and very fresh. Salads included a grilled chicken Caesar and a cobb salad. Both are filled with greens, cheese and other goodies and really are large enough to split.
There is a good choice of burgers — large patties with a number of accompaniments described by the name of the dish. The Ensenada burger comes with spicy Ortega chillies and bacon. The Del Mar burger comes with swiss cheese and mushrooms.
The lunch menu also offers paninis and wraps. The Gaslamp with turkey breast, provolone cheese, avocado spread is one of the several selections.
So, how successful was Gelastopoulos, following “my mother’s dicta”? Over a few years, as business grew at the Pacific Beach location, he bought up the adjacent stores and expanded. Then he strengthened his roof and built a deck on top of his building — glass enclosed, lots of umbrellas, but with open sky and ocean breezes. He even bought some adjacent property just for the parking lots behind them. The Pacific Beach location has lots of free parking. And, on weekends, it needs every bit.
But then the business really began to expand through the magic of franchising. Want to be in the restaurant business? Broken Yolk has a program for you.
Gelastopoulos took the lessons he learned through years of experience and is now teaching others how to succeed. There are now 11 locations throughout San Diego County and plans already in development to open in Orange County and in Palm Springs/Palm Desert. “Focus” pays off.
The ambiance is comfortable. There is a general theme to the interiors of all the restaurants but they do differ in size, shape and interior. The latest location is in Mission Valley at the old Bennigan’s location, which the franchisee took over. Service is excellent and friendly. Prices are moderate.
The Pacific Beach location is at 1851 Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. There’s lots of free parking. Call 858-270-YOLK (9655) for information, or visit www.thebrokenyolkcafe.com.