IHOB IHOP, there’s a new pancake place coming to town. Set to open in Ponce City Market in November, Pancake Social will be a community-oriented, all-day breakfast spot offering eight types of pancakes (including sourdough and whole grain), plus other fresh brunch and lunch items. But it’s not just the menu and location that make this spot stand out; Pancake Social is backed by an Atlanta-based all-star hospitality team. Get ready for food from James Beard Award-winning chef and Bacchanalia owner Anne Quatrano, a coffee program led by Octane co-founder Tony Riffel, design inspiration by Tin Drum Asia founder Steven Chan, and marketing by communications and brand guru Dan Jacobson (formerly of Chick-fil-A).
“We’ve designed it such that the four of us will equally contribute to share in the creative. It’s fun to see all our different backgrounds come together around this fun idea,” Chan says.
“The idea has gotten bigger and better with the collaboration of the team,” Jacobson adds.
Located next to Mountain High Outfitters with a patio facing Historic Fourth Ward Park, Pancake Social will stay open until 7 or 8 p.m. nightly and will not accept reservations. The team is already scouting for additional locations and considering Pinewood Forest in Fayetteville, Buckhead, and Dunwoody for future sites. We spoke to the team about what to expect.
How did you come up with this concept?
Dan Jacobson: It was a love for pancakes done right. My dad was big on sourdough pancakes and serving it right on a hotplate with good syrup and good ingredients. Everybody loves pancakes. It’s a fun food. Most breakfast places [in Atlanta] are Southern and egg-centric but not quite as fun. We want to bring back the joy of pancakes.
How was the team chosen?
Anne Quatrano: This was something Dan felt passionate about. He and Stephen were talking about ideas and innovations. Dan liked the idea of pancakes. He’s never operated a restaurant. They wanted coffee expertise, and that’s where Tony came in. They wanted a menu, and that’s where I came in. We all think the idea is a great one. Breakfast is popular right now, and everyone always loves pancakes. It’s been a lot of fun coming up with ideas—it’s comfort food.
How did you select the location?
Quatrano: I pushed the location on the team because I have a business there [W.H. Stiles Fish Camp]. There’s great traffic and our business is thriving. We’re hoping to open more locations, but for reasons of publicity and business, Ponce is a good choice. Plus, they have a lot of coffee but not full-service breakfast. We’re hoping to fill that niche.
Tell me about the food.
Quatrano: We’re focusing on using artisanal grains [as well as] gluten-free [recipes]. I would like to see the menu not have Southern classics and instead make it a little healthier and fresher. We are going to celebrate with more whole grains. We’ll have a burger, a veggie burger, chia seed pudding, yogurt and granola, bowls, egg dishes, and sandwiches.
What will make the pancakes stand out?
Quatrano: Good ingredients like Vermont maple syrup and local Banner Butter, as well as the pancakes being made with care. It’s the same as coffee. If you start with good beans, you’ll make a good cup of coffee. We’ll have eight types of pancakes from savory to sweet, sourdough, multigrain, and no grain.
Who will be in the kitchen?
Quatrano: A few of my chefs are very interested in the position but we haven’t discussed who it might be. I like the fact that now really good food can be had during the daylight hours. This opens a new lifestyle for my chefs who have traditionally only worked at night.
What’s the plan for the coffee and beverage program?
Tony Riffel: There’s no shortage of good coffee at PCM, and we want to provide good service alongside [Spiller Park and Dancing Goats]. We want to be part of that quality coffee experience but also be very approachable. It’ll be a simple, 10-item-or-less menu with well-versed staff, and we’ll have a place to sit down or take it to-go. It’s about providing that great product to meet the demand. We’ll have a great espresso program, drip coffee, and cold brew on tap. We’ll have beer and wine, mimosas, and fresh juices. We want to be a place where you can have a great meal and cup of coffee and enjoy that sense of community. We’ll use Revelator product. [Revelator purchased Octane last year]. They do a fantastic job with roasting.
What will Pancake Social look and feel like?
Quatrano: We want it to look clean and modern, but comfortable. The focal point will be the coffee bar when you walk in. It’s 22 feet long, locally made with hardwood. The space will have some interesting design elements, but I think they should be a surprise. It’s not a diner. There will be 20 seats available at the counter for quick meals. The dining room will offer full service with 120 seats, plus a patio.
Steven Chan: The design is very focused, with few materials and colors, clean lines, quality and detail driven. We wanted [a space] where the local community can feel comfortable.
Jacobson: We want to draw off the Scandinavian or Nordic heritage. As far as architectural design, that’s where the clean lines come in. The Pancake Social name is a nod to the tradition of people getting together in larger groups for pancakes—fundraisers and that sort of thing.