At Original Breakfast House, owner John Stidham and his team serve up fresh breakfast classics surrounded by décor that hearkens back to his roots on the California Coast (photo by Darryl Webb, special for North Central News).

John Stidham just couldn’t get the hang of hanging out.

After nearly 40 years in the restaurant business, most of it on the Monterey Peninsula, he decided to retire and move to Phoenix, but retirement didn’t last long.

“I got bored,” said Stidham, who has owned and operated a string of 11 restaurants, from breakfast to delis to steakhouses to fine dining. Within two years, he was back in business, opening his 12th restaurant, Original Breakfast House (OBH), on 32nd Street just south of Thunderbird.

That was 10 years ago, and today OBH draws customers from all over the Valley, thanks in part to accolades that consistently list OBH as one of the top breakfast spots in the state. Recently Entrepreneur Magazine named OBH one of the top 150 mom-and-pop businesses in the country, and one of the publication’s 15 “hidden gems.”

That notoriety helps bring first-timers, Stidham said, but it’s the friendly service and ample servings of scratch-made omelets, pancakes, waffles and baked goods that keep them coming back.

The restaurant’s décor hearkens back to Stidham’s roots on the California Coast, with surfboards and photos of seaside scenes filling every cranny of wall surface. It’s all part of the fun atmosphere that begins with the huge vintage jukebox just inside the entry. (There’s also a fee-free ATM for customers because OBH doesn’t accept credit or debit cards.)

“There’s no such thing as a bad day at the beach,” said Stidham, an avid surfer “many moons ago.”

The extensive menu includes pancakes, waffles, eggs and omelets — the usual breakfast fare but with Stidham’s personal twist.

“When I got here, I was really surprised that I couldn’t get dishes with more Mexican flavors,” he said. “Even the better breakfast restaurants might have a token huevos rancheros, but not much else from Mexico. That didn’t make any sense to me.”

Popular dishes at Original Breakfast House include, from top left, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, Triple berry French toast, Chicken-fried chicken with deep-fried French toast, and the Chicken Tinga omelet (photo by Darryl Webb, special for North Central News).

OBH’s fare includes breakfast burritos, chimichangas and enchiladas, along with chilaquiles, a crispy carnitas and avocado omelet topped with red chile sauce and queso fresco, and OBH eggs Benedict with birria — Mexican braised beef — instead of ham.

Stidham’s menu also includes breakfast items from all over the country, including shrimp and grits, and creamed chipped beef on toast, a special favorite with the many veterans who are OBH regulars.

He prides himself on fresh ingredients, especially berries. “You won’t see fresh berries anywhere in the Valley like I have,” he said. That includes strawberries and raspberries piled high on the triple-berry French toast.

“My customers love to see our experimentation,” Stidham said. “They’ll come in and try all my specials. Chicken-fried chicken with deep-fried French toast is a customer favorite. It’s a killer.”

The menu includes monthly specials, and it reflects Stidham’s tastes for distinctive flavors and house-made dishes with fresh ingredients — local whenever possible.

“We’re one of the few restaurants in town that makes Hollandaise sauce from scratch,” he said. “We make it three or four times a day, so our Benedicts are a step above. To me, a breakfast restaurant also has to have an in-house bakery with cinnamon rolls, hand-squeezed orange juice and the best coffee you can get.”

Fall specials will include pumpkin pancakes and other seasonal flavors.

November also will feature one of OBH’s most popular events, centered around Veterans Day. “It’s the biggest day of the year for us,” he said. “We feed vets for free, all day Saturday of Veteran’s Day weekend, there’s outside music and a muscle car show in the parking lot. Veterans who come for this for the first time always come back.”

For Stidham, himself a Vietnam vet, veteran issues are a key focus for OBH’s community outreach.

“For a couple of weeks before Veterans Day we do a big fund-raiser for Tunnel to Towers, matching funds our customers give,” he said. Tunnel to Towers helps provide mortgage-free homes to military and fallen first-responder families and builds homes adapted for injured veterans and first responders.

“I’m very fortunate to be able to do all this at my age,” Stidham said. “I couldn’t do it without the staff. I don’t have any turnover. It’s a very upbeat, cheerful environment, for customers and for staff.”

To say Stidham pampers employees may be an understatement. One recent staff event included a pedicure party.

“I didn’t just pay for it, I had one!” he said. “In November the girls are going to a place in Scottsdale where they teach you how to blend your own lipstick.”

OBH is very much a family spot. “We’re not on Camelback or Scottsdale Road,” Stidham said. “We’re out here in the neighborhood. We have a very diverse clientele from all over the Valley, especially on weekends. It’s kind of like ‘Cheers.’ I try to greet everybody who comes in the restaurant. I know all their names, and when a new person comes in, my servers know to introduce me.

“We take hospitality to the next level. Our goal is to exceed the customer’s expectations, starting from the parking lot. Every aspect should be ‘Wow’ and ‘Welcome.’

Original Breakfast House, at 13623 N. 32nd St., is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., seven days a week. The restaurant is cash-only and does not accept credit or debit cards. A fee-free ATM is available in the lobby. For information, call 602-482-2328, or visit



  • Marjorie Rice

    Marjorie Rice is an award-winning journalist, newspaper food editor, travel editor and cookbook editor with more than three decades' experience writing about the culinary industry.

    View all posts

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