| April 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

Snooze is open for breakfast and lunch but really is much more of a breakfast place.

The popular phrase “If you snooze, you lose” takes on a whole new meaning when visiting the similarly named restaurant in Hillcrest. Located on Fifth Avenue, across the street from the center that houses the Landmark Cinema, diners can identify the location of Snooze by the crowds that are usually milling around in front, waiting for seating.

Snooze is an example of a limited hours’ restaurant, a type that some successful restaurateurs favor because it usually involves shorter working hours and smaller menus. Snooze is open for breakfast and lunch but really is much more of a breakfast place. There are only a few menu items that are usually associated with lunch. It seems that lots of diners enjoy eggs and pancakes later in the morning.

Snooze has six locations – five of them are in Colorado. The owners saw opportunity in San Diego along with great weather in America’s Finest City and grabbed this prime location when it became available. They even clued in the owners of the restaurant next door about their decision (they were friends back in Denver) so Hillcrest soon became home to two interesting eateries.

The Schlegel brothers are the moving spirits behind the business. Jon Schlegel, the founder, spent his career in hospitality, having gone through training programs at University of Denver and at Hyatt. He also worked at a variety of restaurants in Denver to round out his experience. Adam Schlegel, the advisor, brings his management training to the nuts and bolts of this business. Together, they make a formidable team.

It took time and money to develop the location but the owners have created a comfortable, colorful ambiance. A patio edges along the sidewalk in front. Exterior wall of glass windows open up to allow mild spring breezes to bathe diners sitting inside. The high ceilings reach up to a large skylight. Large swirling ceiling decorations, which resemble voluminous Chinese lanterns, add color and movement. Even the cutlery adds to the cheerful ambiance. Dishes are very bright. Silverware is stylish and heavy. The décor tries to create a sense of gaiety and fun.

Caveat – despite the height of the ceiling, the noise level can be pretty formidable. This may be the sounds of people having a good time but don’t expect to be able to hold a serious conversation without stretching the vocal cords.

The menu is a study of what can be served with eggs. “Flavors From The Hen” combines Niman Ranch Cage Free eggs with cheeses, pork, pico de gallo and other ingredients into a selection of dishes, most coming with hash browns. The hash browns, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, are formed into small cylinders a couple of inches wide and a couple of inches high.

Several flavors of Hollandaise sauce can be poured onto a number of versions of eggs Benedict. Lox Ness Benny, one of my favorites, combines poached eggs, cream cheese hollandaise and lox.

Pancakes are another featured item. They come plain, blueberry, chocolate chip, pineapple upside down, and sweet potato flavors, among others. A “pancake flight” is a sampler of three flavors. And, if memories of snowy winter days and chestnuts roasting by the fire are relevant, chestnut roasting pancakes are topped with roasted chestnut caramel.

Snooze management is very eco-conscious. They strive for sustainability and efficiency and recycle whatever they can. And, the company “gives back” to the local community.

More caveats – expect long waits, especially on weekends. So, it may pay to get there early. And, be careful of the “flavor saveurs.” Sometimes, diners find they are charged for the fillings they order, even though the menu does not clearly point out that possibility.

Parking can be a challenge. Snooze does not have its own lot so most diners either need to scramble for on-street parking (often hard to find close by), park at some of the nearby commercial lots or park underground across the street. Of course, parking can add to the cost of the meal.

Bottom line – Snooze can be fun. Prices are on the pricey side for breakfast but some of the food combinations are interesting and tasty. The restaurant opens at 6:30 am weekdays and 7 am weekends, closing daily at 2:30 pm. It is located at 3940 Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest. Call 619-500-3344.

The restaurant does not take reservations so, if you don’t want to wait, get there early. “If you snooze, you lose.”

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