The Breakfast Club

Paris Crossing diner is a family affair

Madison duo make their
750th breakfast outing together

By Don Ward

PARIS CROSSING, Ind. – Dining at The Breakfast Club in Paris Crossing doesn’t require a membership card, but after the meal you can’t help but get to know the staff and clientele. It starts with your seating at a table with virtual strangers and ends with a full stomach and a feeling that you have become a member of the Short family.

Pat Short

Photo by Don Ward

Owner Pat Short.

Owner Pat Short keeps the conversation going, greeting each guest who passes through her door with a friendly “hello” as she sits near the back of the room peeling potatoes that will eventually become tasty hash browns smothered in white gravy. Short’s restaurant, which is inside her own home on Hwy. 250 in southern Jennings County, is open six days a week and often has guests waiting outside for a table – especially on Saturday mornings, her busiest day.
Nearly every one of the employees are relatives, including her son Stephen, who makes the restaurant’s famous cinnamon rolls, daughter-in-law Sondra, daughter Stephanie Pearson, and sister Brenda Hughes. Other employees include Wanda Marcum, waiter Ryan Kuzdal and dishwasher Susie Phillips.
The Breakfast Club, which seats only 30 people at a time at the six tables, is closed on Sundays because, as Short says, “Sunday is a day for me to be with my own family.”
There are dozens of regular customers here, but two men from Madison in particular have become more than regulars over the past four years. Irvin Stockdale and Robert Chandler have been eating breakfast together every Wednesday morning for years, with the past four years at The Breakfast Club. On Nov. 16, they celebrated their 750th breakfast together. Several of the regulars at the “Club” congratulated the men and Stockdale even received a congratulatory telephone call from his daughter in Mt. Sterling, Ky.
“It’s just something we started doing after we retired from I.K.E.C. power plant, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” said Stockdale, 77.
He and Chandler, 78, met and became close friends while working in the coal yard at I.K.E.C. in Madison. Stockdale says he considers his friend “like a brother” since he had no brother. Together, they make the half-hour trip each Wednesday to Paris Crossing.

The Breakfast Club

Photo by Don Ward

The Breakfast Club in Paris Crossing, Ind.

“You never know who you’re going to meet here,” Stockdale said. “It’s like one big happy family.”
The two first began their weekly breakfast jaunts on Nov. 5, 1986. Stockdale keeps a handwritten record of their outings. They made their first trip to The Breakfast Club on June 15, 1994.
“Everyone here knows Bob and Irvin,” said Stephen Short, who cooks and waits tables. He even knows by heart what the two men order – “the usual,” Stockdale tells him.
But after five years of operation, Pat Short closed her restaurant for three years, beginning in February 1998, due to her increasing problems with asthma. With the help of family members, Short re-opened The Breakfast Club four years ago.
Today, she receives help from nearly everyone in her immediate family except her husband, Danny Short, who is retired from Cummins Engines. “All he does now is drink coffee and play golf,” Pat Short joked.
To his credit, however, Danny and his brother, Larry, built the counter that runs the length of what was previously Pat’s dining room and kitchen.

Stephen Short

Photo by Don Ward

Stephen makes the famous cinnamon rolls.

“I’ve always worked around food, so this was something I always wanted to do instead of working for someone else,” said Short, 56, who has five children and has helped to raise 11 foster children.
John and Carol Sargent of Deputy are regulars because of the “good food and fellowship,” said John Sargent.
“We have a lot of fun around here, and we’ve fed a lot of people.” Whatever her secret to success, Short has many loyal customers who keep coming back.
Just ask Stockdale and Chandler.

• The Breakfast Club is located on Hwy. 250 near the intersection of Hwys. 3 and 250. Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday. For information, call (812) 346-2193.

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