Got biscuits and gravy on your mind? What about fried chicken and waffles?
You’ll find them all at Old Townhouse Restaurant in Ocean Beach, open for breakfast and lunch every day, where the menu is packed with homestyle favorites served in a cozy, family-friendly setting.
In fact, the restaurant is family-owned and has been since 1973, when present proprietor Ted Caplaneris’ mom and dad immigrated to Canada by way of Greece and eventually found their way to San Diego.
As Ted explained to Point Loma-OB Monthly: “My father was an aircraft mechanic and my mother was busy raising me and my brother and sister. A family friend decided to retire and wanted my parents to take over his restaurant on University Avenue in East San Diego, so they did. Then, another family friend decided to sell his restaurant in Ocean Beach. So my parents sold the first restaurant and dove into the second one. “
Now mind you, Ted’s parents had no prior restaurant experience. But father, Chris, quickly learned the role of cook, and mother, Soula, learned how to wait tables. The challenge was comparably easy to them, having survived the German occupation of their hometown in Greece and years of dire poverty.
At first, the couple worked 12-hour days to keep the restaurant going. Eventually, they gained enough of a financial foothold to hire a cook. But Ted remembers how food-thrifty his father could be: “He could stretch beef for days, making different meals out of it. One day, it would be stuffed bell peppers, another day it would be beef stew, then meat pies. He quickly learned to make some fantastic lunch specials.”
Ted’s father has since retired, but still oversees operations. These days, Ted and his 80-year-old mother run the place, and Ted insists that what he loves most about coming to work is “having a chat and drinking coffee with mom every morning.”
He also appreciates serving “the bunch of regulars, who we love to see every day, and the many tourists from every part of the world — including the people from Las Vegas and Arizona trying to escape the heat.”
The large, bright windows that face Newport Avenue have allowed restaurant staff and customers to witness all the changes that have occurred in Ocean Beach for the last four decades. The most recent changes, Ted said, are very positive: “Ocean Beach is a happening place these days. It’s not unusual to see gatherings of young people just enjoying the atmosphere. There are a number of breweries that have popped up and quite a few fantastic restaurants, along with some quirky shops. OB has a passionate, grass-roots culture not seen anywhere else. This community cares about its members and has great civic pride.”
The menu at Old Townhouse has evolved just as the OB scene has. Ted pointed out: “I remember customers wanting liver and onions. I can’t see anyone ordering that today! We’ve added Mexican dishes — and the chicken and waffles dish — which is very popular. We also have many combinations of omelets. Our biscuits and gravy are most requested, along with pancakes, waffles and French toast. I like to say our food is home-style cooking when you are not at home.”
The restaurant is most busy on Fridays and the weekends, with people lined up waiting to be seated. During the summer, the lines are there all week. The good news is, people seem to eat fast, so the wait time is usually no longer than 10 minutes, Ted said.
— Old Townhouse Restaurant is open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4941 Newport Ave. in the Ocean Beach area of San Diego. oldtownhouserestaurant.com