Richard Walker’s Pancake House

San Diego, California

Artist Citation Award
Texas Society of Architects/American Institute of Architects

The quarterly journal of the Stained Glass Association of America

Mark Bausback, AIA: BausArch, San Diego, CA

Sunrise with Frank Lloyd Wright
Six windows ranging up to 4.6' w. by 3.4' h. each

The Early Bird Gets the Bacon
12.3 ' w. by 5.3' h.

Stained glass pull-down window shades for a pancake house? Not an everyday request, but extremely tasty and very FULL-FILL-ing! Besides downtown San Diego, ASG’s also created stained glass for RWPHs in Carlsbad & La Jolla, CA and Crystal Lake (near Chicago).

FIRST A LITTLE BACKGROUND: The stained glass tradition at Walker-family restaurants in the Chicago area began in 1960 when Richard Walker’s father and uncle filled their first Pancake House with antique stained glass. In the mid 1990s, Architectural Stained Glass created stained glass for Richard Walker’s second Pancake House in Crystal Lake (near Chicago). Fast-forward to the 21st century: Shortly after opening the first restaurant outside Illinois in San Diego’s Gas Lamp District, Walker asked me to rectify the absence of stained glass at this newest location. Besides wanting to add interest and color to his already lively restaurant, Walker also wanted to provide “sunglasses” that would shield diners from the sunny, southern California sun that bedeviled them each morning.

The most recent Richard Walker’s Pancake Houses are now open in nearby Carlsbad and La Jolla. Click to see their stained glass:

Carlsbad, California and La Jolla, California

NOW BACK TO SAN DIEGO: Nestled between a soaring high-rise condominium and the dynamic architecture of a children’s museum, this postage-stamp-sized restaurant is already a landmark, award-winning dining destination for locals and visitors alike (“Best Breakfast Restaurant in the USA”, USA Today). There’s always a (fast-moving) line. It goes without saying that the breakfast offerings are mouthwatering and nearly impossible to choose among. However, for something different, here’s my insider tip: Richie’s BLT gets my vote with its patented, thick-sliced, cast-iron-pressed, designer bacon and locally sourced veggies on Texas toast!

Sunrise with Frank Lloyd Wright: At first the idea was to simply install stained glass in the front windows above the line where the patio canopy blocks incoming sun. Rather than simply adding a straight horizontal mullion to define the bottom of the stained glass, I randomly slanted the mullion in each window to create a look reminiscent of “pull-down window shades”. To complete the illusion, a rainbow series of hand-felted “shade pulls” were created by Wild Woolies of Marfa, Texas. The arched canopy over the front door is echoed in a stained glass sunrise. The transparent mouthblown glass allows views up to cityscape and sky, while direct morning sun is softened into colorful breakfast-time projections. Austrian lead-crystal prisms scatter tiny spectra onto diners, waffles and pancakes. I probably shouldn’t give a window a cryptic title if I’m not willing to take the time to explain it, but I did and I’m not . . .

The Early Bird Gets the Bacon: This side window, includes another sunrise above a green and blue earth (and a more descriptive title). The Walker Rabbit Logo is barely noticeable from inside the restaurant. Because part of the sides of this window are hidden behind pockets in the wall, the Rabbit isn’t fully visible until one discovers it from the street or parking garage.

For webpages and menus of individual restaurants: San DiegoLa Jolla & Carlsbad, CACrystal Lake, IL.


Materials: European mouthblown glass, Austrian lead crystal prisms, lead and solder (protected behind tempered glass.)