By Kathy Montgomery | Photo by Mark Duran
There’s nothing fancy about Prescott’s Waffle Iron. It’s the picture of a rural diner, with red vinyl banquettes and wood-paneled walls hung with rodeo posters and year-round Christmas decorations. The restaurant’s menu describes it as “plain hometown food in a homey atmosphere.”
But show up for breakfast on Sunday morning prepared to wait for a table. And take an appetite.
The Waffle Iron serves breakfast and lunch, but its loyal, mostly local patrons think of it as a breakfast place. They come in droves for the hearty “cooked from scratch” foods that are served in generous portions.
The place is a carnivore’s delight. Bone-in ham and eggs is a house specialty. Or choose a pork chop, sirloin or chicken fried steak, served with two eggs, potatoes and the choice of three pancakes or biscuits and thick country gravy.
But it’s the waffles that folks clamor for. Belgian or buckwheat, light, airy and cooked to golden perfection, they’re served with a choice of syrups: apricot, strawberry, boysenberry, butter pecan or real maple. Other options include ice cream and fruit toppings. Meat lovers can have the best of both worlds — the bacon waffle, with “bacon cooked right in.”
You’ll also find old-fashioned blue-plate specials (Swiss steak, baked pork chops and barbecued ribs on a recent visit) and a daily special “subject to the whims of the cook.”
The Waffle Iron was built in 1941 as Jack and Jill’s Café on the corner of Sheldon Street and Mount Vernon Avenue, where the home of former Prescott mayor and Rough Rider William “Buckey” O’Neill once stood. Jack and Jill’s was a 24-hour truck stop on a gravel road that advertised foot-long hot dogs, steaks, chops, burgers and “the best chili in town.”
Gayl and Jay Lamoureux bought the restaurant about 30 years ago. It’s still open seven days a week, but now only from 6 a.m. until “10 minutes till 2.” And while it no longer serves hot dogs, you can still get a great bowl of chili.
That’s part of the reason people keep coming back. But the regulars aren’t the only ones who hang around. Staff members swear the place is haunted. On a recent visit, the server talked about hearing voices when no one else was around, water mysteriously turning on and the cook being pelted with bread. Maybe the ghost wasn’t a fan of the cook’s daily “whim.” Or maybe it’s craving a hot dog.