Posted by: Kath Usitalo | December 7, 2010

Road Food Report: The Pancake Town

Pancakes are the specialty at The Glenn, the breakfast and lunch spot in Glenn, The Pancake Town

The blizzard of December 7, 1937 gave the town of Glenn, located on the Blue Star Highway between Saugatuck and South Haven, something to flip over.

Travelers to and from Chicago and elsewhere along the Lake Michigan shore passed through Glenn or, thanks to that December storm, were stranded in Glenn for three days. More than 200 motorists found shelter at the handful of businesses and in the schoolhouse, or were put up by locals.

The snowbound town soon ran low on food, but fortunately the Glenn grocery store had received a delivery of pancake flour just ahead of the paralyzing load of white stuff. With milk from local cows the unexpected guests were able to eat pancakes (but, the records show, no sausage) for breakfast, lunch and dinner until the snowplows came through and they were able to hit the road.

No one was injured by the turn of events and everyone—the residents, stalled truck drivers and other marooned motorists—got along and handled the predicament well, according to Jeanne Hallgren, the town historian and author of the book “Piers, Pancakes and People: A History of Glenn.”

Nationwide news coverage of the event put Glenn on the map as “The Pancake Town,” and inspired a pancake festival that attracted hundreds of visitors in May of 1938. “They did a bang up job,” said Jeanne. “Of course,” she added, “people were hungry for entertainment then.”

The annual festival was abandoned at the start of World War II. “The mood changed,” said Jeanne. Ironically that same date in 1941, December 7, became known for a tragic reason with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jeanne grew up in the Glenn area and in 1947 her parents bought The Glenn Restaurant, which had opened in 1935 and was pancake central during the legendary snowstorm.

Her family sold the spot years ago, but you can still enjoy breakfast or lunch at the tidy diner in Glenn. I was there on a Monday morning in September when most customers were locals who knew each other; I understand there can be a wait on weekends, especially in the summer.

My plain pancakes—with sausage—and plenty of strong coffee were delish, and service was friendly. Drool over the glass case of tempting, house-baked goods and you might be offered a sample of a potato chip cookie (worked for me).

There are a few other businesses in Glenn: an old-fashioned hardware store that sells antiques, a well-stocked market (it replaced the grocery of Pancake Town fame) and the seasonal At Last, a beautiful shop with limited hours where you can buy Jeanne’s history book. (Or phone Jeanne for a copy at 269-227-3582; cost is $10 plus shipping).

The Glenn Restaurant is open year round; hours vary by season. Located at the four corners in beautiful downtown Glenn, a short country drive south of Saugatuck; phone 269-227-3100.

Visitor Info Clicks: Saugatuck

Pure Michigan

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Responses

  1. I remember you calling and not sure if they were closed for the fall. I do not recall if we ddrove by during operating times to see if anyone was there. Too bad did not get the pancakes. Sandy

    • We’ll know to go next time.

  2. Great story. Love local history stuff. The pic of the pancakes is really good too — wish we had made it there this summer, have to put it on our list for the future. Thanks for the info and being the super “go to” person and advocate for all things Michigan.


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