It’s a busy weekend morning at John O’Groats as you wait for the man to take your name down on his trusty clipboard as he speaks in Spanish to his bus boys inside the diner named after a Scottish town.
It’s hard enough to get his attention, though, because he hugs and hurls compliments at almost every patron coming and going.
He’s the man about the place, Paul Tyler, and for good reason: his parents, Angelica and Robert Jacoby, opened the joint more than 30 years ago.
Before you can even sit down, nevertheless, you must first take in the small restaurant. There’s coffee and water outside for the wait, the kind of chairs and sofas you would find in your aunt’s house, and walls lined with San Francisco and Scottish regalia, as well as Jacoby family portraits and insignias.
The charm and character of the décor adds to the experience, no matter how incongruous it may seem – it feels like the home you grew up in, if nothing else.
John O’Groats is a wildly popular breakfast and brunch spot in the Rancho Park-Cheviot Hills area, offering signature biscuits, pancakes and eggs with bacon, among other diner favorites and healthy dishes.
Today, Tyler mixes his parents’ neighborly charm along with what he learned at Cornell University’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration into the O’Groats experience. He started working in the kitchen and as a waiter when he was 16 years old, and now he owns and operates it. If the warmth of the management doesn’t draw you in, the food will.
Fresh ingredients underline John O’Groats’ food. It’s a diner open seven days a week, just for breakfast and lunch (initially so that the Jacoby’s could be home in time for dinner with their children). Favored dishes include the Huevos O’Groats, Vegetarian Hash or Renowned Buttermilk Pancakes. On the subject of pancakes, devotees of the griddle rejoice: try the high-fiber Buckwheat Pancakes, the indulgent Oreo Cookie French Toast or Mango Macadamia Nut Pancakes, and the sinful Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes or Mr. Jacoby’s Famous Waffle.
If savory is your thing, farm fresh eggs, omelets and scrambles infuse quality products that don’t overwhelm, just satiate. Go for the Cilantro Potato Pancakes with thickly sliced bacon, or get the Latino Heat scramble as a breakfast burrito. For the calorie counters, the menu also boasts a “Light & Easy” and “Get Fit” section.
Then there are the biscuits. When Robert Jacoby first opened his original restaurant in 1982 at the southwest corner of Manning Ave. and Pico Blvd., his intentions were pure and simple: to provide good biscuits, good jam and good coffee. With a few quick glances to nearby tables, that original purpose remains in tact.
Don’t let the restaurant’s bourgeois sensibilities fool you – O’Groats comes with a foodie pedigree. The Jacoby’s used to own Bit O’Scotland, famous for their fish and chips, on Westwood Blvd. since the ‘60s before closing it and making O’Groats the flagship restaurant.
They opened to immediate success and soon were being heralded as one of Los Angeles’s best breakfast spots. Their homemade comfort food embodied Los Angeles dishes: Mexican, British and French inspired fare amalgamated with American classics to form the O’Groats menu. Esquire magazine called it one of the “Best Breakfasts in America,” while KTLA Morning News and KABC Morning News dubbed it “Best Breakfast in Town” and former L.A. Weekly critic Jonathan Gold declared O’Groats “the best breakfast on the Westside.”
With three sections signifying three eras of the restaurant’s expansion (the latest storefront addition eastward in 2000), prepare to be mesmerized by the care and background of the people who created O’Groats a homestead.
Heed the warning, though: the line is relentless. Call ahead to put your name down, or bring good company to bear the wait.
John O’Groats is open daily from 7 am to 3 pm at 10516 Pico Blvd.
For more information call 310.204.0692 or visit ogroatsrestaurant.com.