“I always wanted to be down by the beach, a place of my own, a local breakfast place,” confided owner, surfer and former landscaper Dave Russel. He bought the business from a friend in 2007 when it was a fish place.
“Since then we’ve made a lot of changes – but subtly,” said Russel, who considers himself a preserver of local history.
“San Diego’s changed so much, people don’t realize what it was,” he said. “I wanted to have that as something people could notice with the old pictures and older tables.”
Nostalgic Pacific Beach photos line The Menu’s walls. One room has a giant nautical mural.
The restaurateur noted “the dynamics of the neighborhood has changed a lot. The kids and the younger people can’t afford it anymore. We’ve got more families and young professionals.”
Russel praised his stable staff. “I still have many of the same employees I started with,” he said. “A few waitresses have switched out, but I have two that have been with me since the beginning. Two cooks have been here 20 years.”
He prides himself on being “a local community breakfast place” and in people “seeing how hard we work because on the weekends we get slammed.”
Summer, of course, is prime time.
“We get really busy because we get a lot of comeback business, a lot of families that have been coming here for a long time as well as a lot of people from Imperial Valley and Arizona out to beat the heat,” Russel said.
Russel’s kids play in local bands. His restaurant backroom is their practice room.
The Menu features a traditional breakfast with plenty of choices. “A lot of our stuff is build-your-own sandwiches, burritos, omelets,” said Russel. “I’ll have new things out in a table side menu in the next couple weeks for my Mexican breakfast: chilaquiles, a black bean breakfast taco and a carne asada burrito.”
The Menu’s menu also features pancakes and waffles, special combos, egg dishes including chicken fried steak and eggs Benedict, as well as other Mexican favorites including tortas, quesadillas, and huevos rancheros, also granola, oatmeal and acai bowls.
Russel said the most important thing he does is “being out here when it’s busy, talking to everybody, making sure everybody’s got it dialed in because we have a pretty quick turnover.”
Russel ticked off the names of PB mom and pops no longer there.
“I think that kind of helps me, because people still kind of want that,” he said. “They want to have that feeling (of belonging).”
3784 Ingraham St.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends.