DELL BUCKET LIST #4 – Making pancakes at MR. PANCAKE

I’ve tried to make pancakes probably a dozen times in my life, but each and every time the results have been less then desirable. If not burnt, they’ve ended up misshapen and sad looking, nothing like you would find at a restaurant. They especially never looked like the ones you’ll find at the Wisconsin Dells mainstay Mr. Pancake - where recently I got the opportunity to learn firsthand the secret for their delicious pancakes, waffles and crepes.

Mr. Pancake, located in the prominent paddle boat building on Wisconsin Dells Parkway, has been a Thompson family dining tradition since 1962. Offering over 50 breakfast choices, as well as a lunch menu, Mr. Pancake is open seven days a week during the summer season, and generally serves more than one thousand people per day.

My latest Bucket List adventure began early one morning when I got to meet manager Elizabeth Knoop, whose parents bought Mr. Pancake nearly fifty years ago. Having started at the age of ten (where her mother made her a little skirt to match everyone else), she has since worked virtually every job possible at the family-owned restaurant over the years.

Smelling the delicious aroma in the air, I was anxious to start learning how to make the perfect pancake. Elizabeth began by giving me a tour of the kitchen, where she explained that nearly everything at Mr. Pancake was made from scratch – from their own special pancake batters (like their Swedish batter that has to set for 24 hours), to the variety of different syrups & fresh fruit topping mixtures. She takes pride in the quality of the ingredients, which plays a big part in why so many of her customers are repeat visitors.

After showing me around the place, I was then introduced to her son Charlie, who works as a cook and may possibly take over when Elizabeth retires. My first question for him was to ask how they make the pancakes almost perfectly round. I got to find out the answer with a hands-on approach, as he handed me this funnel-like contraption filled with batter, and told me to pull the trigger a few times over the hot stainless steel griddle. Having the batter come out in shapes that actually were circular was a first for me, and I quickly went down the line with what they like to call a “pancake shooter” - making rows of soon-to-be pancakes that were shortly going to end up in someone’s belly.

The next step was learning when it was the proper time to flip the pancakes, which also gave me difficulties when trying to make them on my own. I was told to watch the edges, and when they started to look golden brown, slide a steel spatula underneath, and gently give the wrist a quick rotation. While this part definitely was the most fun and quite easy to do when there was plenty of room on the griddle, when filled with pancakes things got a lot more difficult. More than once my flips got away from me and landed on top of another pile of batter, requiring the need to be doctored up, and put on the bottom of the stack to cover up the imperfections.

Once the pancakes were plated, applying the toppings came next. Not wanting to screw anything more up as I was helping create orders that were actually being sent out, I initially was cautious with the amount of fruit I scooped on top. Seeing the teeny amount of strawberries I put on my first stack, I was quickly told to heap on more until there had to be close to a half pound – they serve their plates loaded!

After sprinkling on the powdered sugar (which tends to get everywhere – sorry to the person that got some bacon that may have been a tad bit sweet), I sprayed a mound of whip cream on top to create what I can only imagine was a mountain full of goodness on a plate.

While I now know the art to making the perfect pancakes, I think I’ll leave my pancake consumption to the special occasions when I can visit Mr. Pancake. I usually stick to blueberry, due to it being my favorite fruit, but I may just have to switch things up & try one of their specialty hot fudge banana split waffles - which looked ridiculously spectacular.

Mr. Pancake is open for breakfast and lunch from 7am to 1:30pm. For more information visit