Debbie’s in Paradise serves up its own special version of the diner staple
Debbie’s Restaurant7967 Skyway
Paradise, CA 95969
Chicoans know Debbie Presson as city clerk—facing the dais in Chico City Council Chambers, laptop open, logging minutes of the meeting and noting the public speakers before they come to the podium.
Up in Paradise, she has other identities. She’s a former mayor and town councilwoman. She’s a mother of three. Plus, she happens to be the Debbie in the name of Debbie’s Restaurant, the eatery on the Skyway that CN&R readers selected as the best breakfast place on the Ridge.
Debbie opened Debbie’s in 1988. Her mother, the source of the restaurant’s special pancake recipe (more on this later), worked alongside her for the better part of a decade, until passing away in 1998. For the Presson children, “it’s the last thing they have of their grandmother,” Debbie said—Matt, 21, Melissa, 18, and Melanie, 14, literally grew up there, and the two girls serve customers during the weekend, when regulars come in waves to the cozy establishment.
Ownership went to ex-husband Dan Presson in 2002, though from time to time the namesake drops by; one particularly busy morning, she even put on an apron and waited tables. Helping carry on the family tradition is her sister, Dorrie Hankins, a hostess and server.
Debbie’s opens for breakfast at 7 a.m. seven days a week and closes at 2 p.m. after lunch. (Dinner is not served.) The menu features an array of omelets, egg dishes and sandwiches, but what the kitchen is known for are the “delightfully thin pancakes” Dorrie and Debbie’s mom used to make.
“It’s how we grew up eating them—I never thought it was weird,” Debbie said. “Because Mom always made them so thin, she decided she’d make them 10 inches in diameter so people would think it’s enough.”
The first grill was only wide enough to accommodate four pancakes at a time, so an upgrade was in order. Now the cooks can create stack after stack of the regular or the “Blue Cakes,” incorporating blueberries in the batter. The recipe is a closely held secret.
My wife and I have become loyal patrons with Melissa our regular server. I drink coffee; Amy goes for tea (chai or English breakfast). We each have a few favorite dishes.
Most of the time, I get the Debbie’s Farmhouse: two eggs, bacon or sausage, two pancakes or four half-slices of French toast ($6.90). I usually pick the pancakes, but every so often I’ll get what I’ve nicknamed “the Melissa Farmhouse” since she wholeheartedly recommended the French toast—somehow, Debbie has a child who’s not “a pancake person.”
I order the ’cakes medium, so they’re a bit crispier. The edges are almost carmelized that way, only partway absorbing the butter and syrup I liberally spread. The gentle crunch from the perimeter with the light fluffiness from the center makes each bite distinctly delicious.
Amy tends to order one of three things: sides of over-medium eggs ($1.10 each) and English muffins ($1.75) for a light breakfast, and huevos rancheros ($7.55) or a cheese omelet ($6.40) when she’s hungry, with fruit instead of potatoes and extra avocado ($.95) on top of either. The three-egg omelets are fluffy yet satisfying. The huevos—two eggs, refried beans, sauce, salsa and cheese, draped over a corn tortilla—are hearty and tasty.
Debbie’s isn’t fancy, but for folks seeking good food and friendly service in a family restaurant, it’s worth a morning ride.