For some, a job in the service industry is a temporary venture, but Josh and Pam Beadel knew early on that they would be “lifers.”
Today, the couple is celebrating a decade of owning and operating The Breakfast Bar at their Downtown location. Wednesday, Dec. 13, marks the official anniversary.
The husband and wife duo behind the wildly popular brunch and breakfast restaurant — which opened a second location in Belmont Heights one year ago — has sought to set their menu apart by focusing on made-from-scratch family recipes that can’t be duplicated elsewhere.
Uncle Marcee’s Omelet Casserole, made 24 hours before serving and baked to order, is a dish that comes from Pamela’s side of the family. It’s made with egg, jack cheese, milk, and bread and is topped with a spiced sour cream. Instead of hash browns, crispy, fluffy potato pancakes are served with most entrees.
But for many, what makes a good restaurant doesn’t just depend on the food. It’s the potential to make lasting and meaningful memories. The Beadels say they’ve worked hard to make Breakfast Bar a place for people to do just that.
The eatery has hosted several weddings, celebrated birthdays, engagements, and even a few memorials all within the walls of its flagship location Downtown.
But nothing could guarantee the Beadels’ success. When they first opened their doors, the couple told their insurance agent if they could just make $1,000 a day, they would make it.
They exceeded that goal by triple after the first year.
Pam and Josh have almost always worked together at various restaurants and bars across the city. But before that, they were high school sweethearts. After marrying in their early 20s, it became clear that their professional relationship and marriage would require a delicate balance.
“We worked together at Red Lobster, we worked together at The Vault 350,” Pam said. “I think it was good that we had all that time to work together and get used to working together and still being married.”
Overtime, they began to take on bigger roles. Pam at one point managed, and then became a part owner of George’s Greek Cafe in Lakewood.
“When we worked for other people, we were basically running their businesses,” Josh Beadel said. “And that was the training ground that we took.”
They worked constantly, pulling 10 or 12 hour shifts sometimes six times a week. The “vampire life,” as Pam describes it now, was fantastic when they were young and childless, but wasn’t sustainable when they welcomed their first child eleven years ago, Jackie, and second, Jonah, four years after.
“That was a big turning point for me,” Pam said. “Looking at [Jackie] and thinking it’s not fair to her to miss out because of whatever I’m doing right now.”
In 2013, the spot where their restaurant now stands was run down and underutilized, but the couple had a vision of what it could be and decided to take the plunge.
“What we saw was the potential for a really killer place in the Downtown area that didn’t really have the representation of a brunch-breakfast place that we would like to go to on that side of town,” Josh said.
When they first took over the spot, they had to pull Christmas lights out of the palm trees that had been left there for years. It needed a lot of work, but they were determined to bring something special to that corner.
“I can see the Queen Mary stacks from here,” Pam said. “We’re right down the street from the ocean. We’re in the middle of this beautiful hubbub city, but I just can’t tell you how many times people would say to me, ‘I don’t know about this location.’”
The grind of owning and operating a business has had its challenges. From a five day power outage to a gas leak and plumbing issues, they’ve always found a way to make it through. Largely, they’ve relied on a network of people right here in Long Beach to keep their doors open.
“Early on, we weren’t afraid to ask for favors, especially when we didn’t have any money,” Josh said. “Friends who are electricians and plumbers and things like that, that we just called in favors because they’re buddies. Thank goodness we have people like that in our lives, but we couldn’t have done it without them.”
And now they’re paying it forward. In the past year, they’ve taken a slight step back from the restaurant, relying more on their roughly 85 employees to keep things running without having them be in every step of the process. Although they still spend time in Long Beach each month, they’ve moved out of state to begin working on their next vision — operating a farm in Oregon.
“I tell staff: ‘I don’t want you to retire with us,’” Pam said. “We want you to be here for a wonderful season of your life. And we want you to learn and get everything that you can from us.”
But for those that do want to remain part of the Breakfast Bar family, the Beadels have set up their employees with a retirement plan and health benefits, highly coveted commodities in an industry where such benefits are far and few between.
They’ve also launched the Pancakes 4 Purpose initiative as part of the non-profit organization, Beadel Family Foundation. The initiative has partnered with a network of organizations focused on financially supporting efforts to create opportunities for at-risk youth, scholarship programs for foster children and veterans living with PTSD.
Despite all of the responsibility and stress that comes with employing dozens, managing two brick-and-mortars while juggling their own family life and everything in between — the Beadels say it’s the thousands of customers they’ve served that made it all worthwhile.
“We’ve become a really special place for other people,” Pam said. “A place where people just know like it’s theirs too.”