East County Times Dining Guide

Hungry? Billy and Maria Shea invite you to try breakfast at the newly renovated Sheas Pancake & Waffle House.



By Allison McAlister

Did you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It give us the fuel we need to jumpstart our day and helps us perform well in our daily activities. In fact, research has shown that people who eat a healthy breakfast every day have lower cholesterol (which reduces the risk of heart disease), have more strength and endurance and are less likely to become obese. With all these benefits, why wouldn't you eat breakfast? Not to mention that breakfast can be incredibly delicious. Especially the breakfasts served up daily at Shea's Pancake & Waffle House in Essex. The Sheas were onto something when they opened the restaurant, which only serves breakfast fare, approximately 10 years ago. Unfortunately, owner Bill Shea, passed away about two years ago. His daughter took over but soon had to bow out due to her own health problems and family obligations. That's when son Billy, who'd helped in the kitchen while his sister ran things, stepped in and officially took over the family business about three months ago. Billy grew up in the restaurant business and had worked in the kitchen at his aunt and uncle's place, Jad's Caddyshack, for years. While Billy works his magic in the kitchen, his wife Maria takes care of the business side of things such as bookkeeping, payroll and more. “I've waitressed, I've bussed, I've done it all,” she laughs, explaining that she, too, has worked in the restaurant field since she was a teenager. With new owners comes changes, and Shea's restaurant has undergone quite the cosmetic transformation. “Everything has been redone,” explains Billy. “We've done quite a bit of remodeling to brighten up the place for our customers.” From paint and décor to ceiling fans and fresh flowers on the table, if you haven't been to Shea's in a while, it looks like a totally different restaurant. But, as always, the food is just as delicious. “We've got the same great food and the same great prices, but the restaurant just looks better,” Billy says. The food is certainly “great.” With so many options available, I didn't know what to try when my dining companion and I visited recently. There's specialty omelets, pancakes, waffles, breakfast burritos, crepes, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizza - it all looked so good. Billy and Maria have even added a few new items to the menu, including Candy Cakes, which are pancakes filled with bits of candy such as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Cinnamon Roll French Toast, a popular seller and highly recommended by both Billy and Maria. How could I resist? It did sound scrumptious. And, boy, was it ever! I ordered the gooey cinnamon roll French toast topped with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream. Wow! Definitely well worth the indulgence. Every bite was heavenly. I opted for a side of home fries to go with it, and they were quite yummy as well. My dining companion ordered an omelet with sausage, cheese and green peppers, along with an everything bagel. She raved about her meal, too. I mooched a bite of the omelet, and it was really good. She wants to go back and take her grandkids for the Candy Cakes. I want to go back to try it all! The staff at Shea's is welcoming and friendly, the service is top notch and the food was served in no time at all. The restaurant exudes such a homey feel, it's no wonder there are customers who come in daily, or at least several days a week. The atmosphere and the regulars make Shea's feel a little like “Cheers.” “We're Cheers without the beer,” says Maria. “We have eggs instead.” Shea's is home of the $1.99 Rouse Special - two eggs, home fries and toast - available in-house only, excluding weekends and holidays. In fact, the most expensive item on the menu is under $15, so even in these tough economic times, most folks can still afford to treat themselves to a wonderful breakfast away from home. You know it always tastes better when someone else does the cooking. And it is the most important meal of the day, so start yours off right with a delicious cooked-to-order breakfast at Shea's. Shea's Pancake & Waffle House is located at 215 Back River Neck Rd. in Essex. Open seven days a week, excluding Christmas Day, the restaurant serves up breakfast from 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. Dine in and carryout service available. For more information, call 410-238-4877.

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