Laura Sams is the Hotcake Queen.
Hers are no ordinary flapjacks: Imagine apple hotcakes drizzled with warm caramel sauce, or chocolate-laced pancakes topped with berries and cream. She offers bananas Foster, Bavarian cream and pumpkin-pie hotcakes. Hotcakes drizzled with Nutella, hotcakes stuffed with blueberries and pecans.
The single mother of four, along with chef Elvi Dillard, opened Café on Main in Sharpsburg a little more than two years ago. Since then, the little purple-and-green breakfast-and-lunch spot has flourished. Folks from Shadyside to Squirrel Hill drive to the once-flood-damaged main drag for the reasonably priced fare: gooey hotcakes, internationally named omelets (Scandinavian, German, Irish, Italian, Greek) and lunch items.
"Having four kids, it was hard to go out and find good, affordable food," says Sams. "I wanted to open a place that offered food made with fresh ingredients but wasn't expensive."
Sauces are made from scratch, and all breakfast items are served with thick slices of ciabatta from Breadworks.
Previously, Sams worked at her sister's restaurant down the street. CC's, an Italian restaurant, serves dinner, so there is no sibling rivalry. She and sis Anita Schaming have the three squares covered on one block.
Inspired by her favorite restaurant in North Carolina, Sams, along with chef Dillard, crafted a similar menu, chock-full of overstuffed omelets, fluffy pancakes, grits and scalloped potatoes.
Sams is reluctant to call her hotcakes "pancakes."
"Pancakes sound too heavy where ours are a little more crêpe-y, but lighter," she explains.
She wanted to "do a café theme," but not make it too fancy or upscale. The dining area is called the "garden room," minus the cutesy decorations the name might suggest. Sams also managed to spruce up the old storefront the café now resides in, without stripping the venue of its character.
As for the location, Sams is proud to be part of a community that's reinventing itself.
"Downtown Sharpsburg is like Lawrenceville 10 years ago," she laughs. "But we're slowly coming around."
914 Main St.