Bill Fischler describes his establishment as "a poor man's J. Paul Getty Museum." The outside is bright green, with white block letters spelling out "Patrick's Roadhouse" over a banner of shamrocks. In a second-floor window, a mannequin beckons to those driving along Pacific Coast Highway.
Supposedly, Fischler designed the interior of the Santa Monica restaurant. But it looks more as if he just wanted to cover every inch of wall with his eclectic collection of nautical paraphernalia, mementos, antique mirrors and portraits of people you've never heard of. He says those are his Irish grandparents flanking the mirror.
Patrick's is a blur of activity every morning. It's a favorite of beach-goers as well as a "power breakfast" spot for locals in the entertainment industry.
Typically, a dozen or so people are waiting around the door. Inside, orders of pancakes, eggs and omelets flow from the tiny kitchen, announced by the repeated clang of a ship's bell.
The Best Seats
Some people perch on stools at the bar facing the kitchen, but most hold out for booths in the lower room, or, better yet, the mismatched tables and chairs upstairs. In good weather, they also vie for the seating on a narrow patio that runs parallel to Pacific Coast Highway and the beach.
T-shirts and satin jackets bearing the restaurant name hang from a rafter. Staff members wear whatever they want under their Patrick's aprons; one waitress dashes around in 4-inch spike heels. We couldn't help asking how many hours she could put up with that kind of torture.
"All day," she said without a moment's hesitation. Somebody must have flinched, because she assured us it didn't bother her a bit. "I've got really strong legs," she added.
Patrick's serves only breakfast and lunch. It closes at 3 p.m. on Mondays, at 4 p.m. other weekdays, and whenever the management gets around to it on weekends.
A Flood of Changes
It wasn't always so--at one time they were also open for dinner. Then, in 1980, a flood hit one evening about 5:30. Fischler says it was after cleaning out mud for three days that he decided not to work so hard, but he also admits that his son Patrick, for whom the place is named, suggested they spend more time together.
Will that change now that Patrick is off to study at New York University?
"Well, maybe," Fischler said, but quickly went on to explain that it would mean they couldn't rent the space in the evening for private parties.
The most (or perhaps the only) normal aspect of this restaurant is the food.
"Everything is fresh, everything made from scratch," Fischler claims with pride. Besides the eggs, pancakes, French toast and 15 types of omelets, there are breakfast specialties: steak and eggs, Patrick's special, Bauernfruhstuck (farmer's breakfast) and Eggs McKarageorgevitch (an eggs Benedict takeoff with Jack cheese).
If brunch or lunch suits you better, they offer 19 hamburger variations and 11 different sandwiches. Dessert pies include coconut cream, apple cream and their popular banana cream.
Patrick's Roadhouse, 106 Entrada Drive (at Pacific Coast Highway), Santa Monica; (213) 459-4544.