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North Shore says goodbye to 2 longtime breakfast spots

Both the De Dutch on Third Street West and the Denny’s on Marine will close in the coming days

The North Shore’s pancake-making quotient is about to take a dive.

After decades of pouring pannekoek batter and flipping flapjacks, the De Dutch on Third Street West and the Denny’s on Marine Drive in North Vancouver are shutting their doors for good.

After 35 years, De Dutch will serve its last spek, stroop and Boer’s breakfasts on Dec. 24, while the Denny’s will grill up its final Grand Slams on Jan. 2, following more than 50 years in operation. At this time there are no development proposals for the De Dutch site, but Denny’s will be replaced by apartments.

The closing of these early morning and late-night institutions has drawn a mix of melancholy and nostalgia from North Shore residents who have either dined or worked at these restaurants over the years.

Nick Martin is glad he got to experience his first father-son breakfast date at De Dutch earlier this year. On that day in April, Martin was a bit nervous going in, as it was his first time taking one-year-old Walker to a restaurant by himself.

But his worries soon melted like warm butter, as the duo was greeted with diner-style hospitality at the door.

“Everybody welcomed him, which is funny because he was probably only a year old,” Martin said. “Then they set him up at the table with colouring and crayons and stuff.”

Of course, they ordered the famously huge Dutch-style eggy pancake, called pannekoek, which was “as big as he was.” After the sugar rush kicked in, Walker got a bit excited and started to throw some crayons around. But you could tell from the staff’s patient response that it wasn’t their first rodeo with a rowdy youngin, Martin said.

Although he’s lived in North Vancouver most of his life, he hadn’t been to De Dutch in 15 years. But the Walkers went back several times this year because it was such a nice experience.

“They helped make it such a special day with how kind they were, how great the service was and how nostalgic it was for me,” he said. “It’s too bad that they’re closing down.”

Not all Moons Over My Hammy are created equal

If you ever had an exceptionally delicious Moons Over My Hammy sandwich at the Marine Drive Denny’s, it might have been made by Pooyan Khorsandi, who used to work the grill in the late 1990s.

“My secret was I grilled the bread longer than recommended, so it had a nice crisp to it. And I used to stack up the ham,” he said. “When people came in and saw me working and they ordered Moons Over My Hammy, they knew it was going to be lit.”

Due to its proximity to the Lions Gate Bridge, and being one of the only 24-hour joints in town, the all-day breakfast restaurant was often packed late at night. Khorsandi worked the graveyard shift.

“It was a happening place in the late ’90s, early 2000s, especially at night,” he said. “It used to get packed in there because everyone was coming back from the clubs downtown.”

“After midnight … it’d be a lineup of people waiting to get seated. And you’d run into everyone in the neighbourhood,” Khorsandi said.

He remembers all kinds of shenanigans – food fights, high school relationship drama. One time, the restaurant erupted into a full-on brawl, and the whole place had to be cleared out.

Overall, Pooyan said he had a great time working at Denny’s. “It was an experience.… It was fun because I’d be working and then all my friends would show up.”

Last year, he returned to his former workplace, this time with his two young daughters. They sat in his same favourite booth.

I’m glad I got a chance to take my girls there before it closed,” he said. “There aren’t many places that are still open that I can go, ‘Hey, daddy used to hang out here.’”

In his 10 years at the Capilano Rugby Club, Richard Merinsky is no stranger to the local Denny’s. After a couple of the club’s annual events – like the Coffee Mate Cup in November – a trip from Klahanie Park to the nearby restaurant is almost guaranteed, he said.

Part of why Denny’s resonates with so many is because it’s a spur-of-the-moment place you can land with whoever you’re spending time with.

“You can go and spend as little or as long there as you needed to. It wasn’t exclusive based on how old you were or who you were. It was one of those last few places that was really accessible to everybody on the North Shore,” Merinsky said.

“I don’t think there’s anything out there that’s going to replace it.”

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