^ Owner Sara Ernest mugs beside the “86” board.
There are two reasons people love Early Birds Breakfast in St Louisville.
#1 You cannot find a better home-cooked, short ordered, pan gravied, piled up, original, classic red, white and blued breakfast anywhere else in the county.
#2 all of the above plus, free entertainment.
#3 and love, everybody gets love.
^ That’s owner Elizabeth Ernest at the top expediting the orders and managing the griddle. There is a steady lineup of no fewer than 15 orders on the board in front of her.
This morning I am here for all of these reasons but mostly to soak in the free entertainment. The entertainment comes from the staff. Just watch and listen. I have heard people describe this as improvised modern dance. To me, it feels more like game day and I have a sideline VIP pass with one of the privileged four stools facing the short order action. Game on.
^ The first thing you do at Early Birds is get your name on the wait list.
I count at least twelve staff in uniform this morning. They are setting picks, dodging, block and tackling, calling signals, and laying down a full court press in a game with no time outs. The whistle don’t blow until the last ticket is closed. It is beautiful thing to experience.
It is late Sunday morning when I arrive. I got signed in on the wait-list board and ask Sara (who doesn’t love Sara?) for a seat at the counter. My plan was to order either the Chicken Fried Chicken (its technically brunch because it comes with eggs, grits and gravy) or a Tot Stack. Those plans got derailed when it was insisted that I order the special, a BLT Pile Up. “You can order off the menu anytime,” she said. “The BLT Pile Up is only here today.”
^ This is not a big salad with creamy dressing. This is a BLT Pile Up. WTF it's good.
Pay attention. The BLT Pile Up is a deconstructed BLT sandwich layered open face with 2 pieces of toast with mayo (yes, mayo), topped with fried eggs, smothered with pan gravy then piled with lettuce and tomato. I earned clean plate honors this morning if that tells you anything.
^ Everything is kept old-school here. Orders are hand-written on tablets, Casio calculators tap out the totals, and receipts get stabbed on a skewer when closed. There are lots of receipts.
It’s about 12:55 when the last order goes out to the tables. High fives and hugs are shared in the kitchen. These teammates know what they accomplished and I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to witness this crew up close. They played a good game today.
^ Sara and Elizabeth Ernest.
Early Birds Breakfast
8290 Mount Vernon Rd
Sat & Sun 7:00am-12:30pm