Breakfast of Patient Champions

Most Frequent Visitor. Photo by Larissa Zimberoff.

Most Frequent Visitor. Photo by Larissa Zimberoff.

When people talk about Clinton Street Baking Company, they’re usually talking about two things: pancakes and waiting in line. Visitors and locals come for the restaurant’s blueberry pancakes, and for good reason: they’re crispy-edged and fluffy, made with teensy-tiny wild Maine blueberries. Other options include bananas and walnuts, and chocolate chunks. The restaurant goes through 250 pounds of those blueberries per week, or 13,000 pounds per year, plus 416 gallons of New York maple syrup. During pancake month, in February, they sell almost 2,000 orders a week.

In 2001, when Clinton Street Baking Company first opened, it was a simple neighborhood café with baked goods and coffee. That was it. Co-owner and chef Neil Kleinberg added the brunch menu later, and, if his memory serves, the line business started in 2005. Smart line-standers queue up well before nine a.m., which is when Clinton Street opens on the weekends. There are thirty-two seats in the Lower East Side location, and that first line can easily fill them twice over. You go expecting to wait—you get some coffee, you hang out.

I live on Clinton Street and often wonder who’s standing in line. On a recent Sunday, I decided to talk to as many people in line as I could.

Written for Lucky Peach. Read the full story here.