The Brown Derby Cafe opens at 8:30 on a foggy, fall Saturday morning in the north Okanagan town of Armstrong, B.C. I roll up at 8:40. No problem, right?
Dead wrong. The converted old house is already packed. But as I prepare to wait, co-owner Caroline asks an older local couple (John and Gail?) if I can sit with them. “Sure, pull up a chair.”
Everybody in the place seems to be having the daily breakfast special: local eggs, bacon or beef sausage, grilled potatoes and toast. For $2.99. What? You’re kidding? Nope.
In fact, when she takes my order, Caroline doesn’t even ask if I want something else off the menu, say, Texas French toast (also $2.99; is this a charitable enterprise?). Instead, she just asks how I want my eggs (scrambled) and toast (Russian rye, wow!). “How about some apple juice? We just pressed it this morning.”
I chew the fat with my new friends and watch co-owner Neil dart around the open kitchen cooking eggs while juking and singing to a classic rock soundtrack. When I ask to take a picture, he says, “I can’t stop moving.”
Despite the crowd, the breakfast is quick, hot and splendid. And did I mention, it only costs $2.99? Actually, it doesn’t cost me anything. My seatmates get up to pay before I do and as they’re leaving, turn to casually say, “We got your breakfast.”
When I mention this to Caroline, she replies: “Welcome to Armstrong.” And as I walk down the street to my car, two passing locals look me in the eye, smile and say, “Good morning.”
What is wrong with these people?
The Brown Derby Cafe
3425 Pleasant Valley Road, Armstrong, B.C.
Tuesday to Friday 6:30 am-mid afternoon, Saturday 8:30 am-mid afternoon. Closed Sunday and Monday
Just down the street, Wild Oak Cafe is bringing a sophisticated take to the Armstrong coffee scene, witness pour-overs and warm morning muffins and croissants served at vintage wood tables. Heidi Jordan’s lunch menu is equally contemporary: a grilled Cascadia cheese sandwich with garlic aioli or a curried kale salad. But don’t worry. They’re Armstrong friendly, too.
Wild Oak Cafe
2539 Pleasant Valley Boulevard, Armstrong
Tuesday to Saturday 9 am-4 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday