It can be difficult to meet new people during a global pandemic. But this San Francisco resident was able to bring his community together with the help pancakes.
Curtis Kimball, chef and owner of the now-closed Creme Brulee Cart, felt that his city’s vibes were “all effed up,” so to somehow make things better, he decided to do what he knew best: cooking.
This time, it’s pancakes on the menu.
Curtis, a 20-year Bay Area San Francisco resident, tweeted out an invitation to the pancake party and hung funny flyers all over the neighborhood, which read, in part: “My wife says I’m getting weird. She said I should make friends. So I’m making pancakes.”
The January 22 event was a big success. His party Saturday morning attracted over 75 people who ate more than 125 buttery pancakes!
Curtis, who was “totally surprised” by the number of people who came, documented the experience in a series of tweets in early February.
“I actually didn’t know what to expect at all and I was terrified setting up for it. Even putting up the flyers made me nervous and self-conscious,” he told TODAY. “Like, this could be a really dumb idea and everyone might hate it. But the first people showed up right away, they lived two doors down and they were very excited.”
Curtis didn’t plan for it to be an event—he just wanted a chance to reconnect with neighbors after the years-long pandemic disrupted everyone’s lives. Many of his close friends had left, and he missed being able to interact with people.
The San Francisco resident thought everybody likes pancakes—or “at the least the idea of pancakes”—as he put it. He thought that people would come if there were dozens of them, and invited them to eat free.
Curtis envisioned it as a great chance for everyone to meet new neighbors and make new friends.
He was correct, it turned out. Alabama St. was packed with people who were hungry to share little joys and connect with others that morning.
“It was a really nice mix of generations and backgrounds which you don’t often see in SF,” Curtis said. “Lots of kids and dogs (which was fun for my kids too), and a lot of people who lived near each other but had never met or connected.”
Strangers brought all kinds of gifts to show their gratitude, including homemade lemon curds or small-batch honey.
Curtis even hosted another pancake get-together on February 12. The second time was an even bigger success—300 people showed up, thanks to his previous pancake party making several headlines.
“The joy, the laughter, the gratitude, the kindness was all overwhelming (as was the smell of pancakes),” Curtis wrote in a tweet. “Not to be a softy, but I got a little misty a few times as every person thanked me for what to them felt like the perfect antidote at the perfect time after a rough 2 years.”
It was interesting that he decided not to venture back into the food business after this experience.
“The vibes were so good that going back to the foodie vibes feels bad,” Curtis told San Francisco Eater. “Customers come with the expectation of themselves as critics rather than just as enjoyers.”
He realized that his true calling in life was to create good vibes and get people together. He stated that he was primarily motivated by making people happy when he started his creme-brulee business. And judging from the turnout of his pancake parties, he’s a natural at it.
Curtis doesn’t know what Curtis will do next, but he hopes other people will be inspired to host Saturday morning pancake parties within their communities.
“I think it’s important because most of our public spaces are dominated by the big arguments over our differences as people,” he said.
“And those things are important. What feels lost and may be equally important is celebrating our commonalities and each other. We need more chances, as people, to root for each other and to believe in each other as humans.”
Many attendees requested a tip jar or donation jar, but Curtis didn’t have one. Curtis set up a GoFundMe account for those who wish to make a contribution.
Here is a video from KRON to learn more about our ‘pancake guy’.
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