Making friends as an adult can be hard. When you factor in in a global pandemic, it gets even more complicated. So what can one do to connect with their community and forge new friendships?
One San Francisco man found the perfect solution: a pancake party for the community.
Curtis Kimball, the owner of the Crème Brûlée Cart, tweeted out an invitation and hung funny flyers up around the neighborhood, reading in part, “My wife says I’m getting weird. She says I need to make friends. So I’m making pancakes."
Kimball’s plan worked. In fact, it was a hit within the neighborhood: His Jan. 22 event garnered dozens of guests. He documented the experience in a Twitter thread in early February, sharing the lessons he learned from hosting more than 75 of his neighbors.
“San Francisco is in a bad way. Vibes are all effed up. I can’t do much to solve the problems here, but I can make pancakes,” he tweeted. “So I hung up fliers all over the neighborhood and made pancakes. Over 75 people came and over 125 pancakes were eaten.”
Kimball told TODAY Food via email that he was “totally surprised” that so many people showed up on a Saturday morning to eat pancakes together.
“I actually didn’t know what to expect at all and I was terrified setting up for it. Even putting up the flyers made me nervous and self-conscious,” he explained. “Like, this could be a really dumb idea and everyone might hate it. But the first people showed up right away, they lived two doors down and they were very excited.”
Kimball noted that the more people that showed up, the more he could sense that everyone who arrived was happy and “just came with a sense of wonder and hope and joy.”
“They didn’t know what to expect, but they were expecting it to be wonderful,” he said. “And because of that, it really was.”
Initially, Kimball didn’t even plan on it being an event — he just wanted an opportunity to reconnect with neighbors after the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it and many of his friends moved away during the two year period.
He figured that everybody enjoys pancakes (or, as he put it “at least the idea of pancakes), so if he dished out dozens of them, he had a feeling that the people would come and there would be an opportunity to meet new neighbors and even make new friends.
When the community did show up, Kimball said that the “vibe was incredible,” describing it as “a mix of wonder and joy and people hungry to connect and laugh at this ridiculous event.”
“It was a really nice mix of generations and backgrounds which you don’t often see in SF,” he explained. “Lots of kids and dogs (which was fun for my kids too), and a lot of people who lived near each other but had never met or connected.”
This wasn’t a one-and-done event for Kimball, either. In fact, he’s hosting another pancake meet-up near his house next Saturday for the community again. Then, a couple of weeks after, there are plans to host another meet-up in another neighborhood in San Francisco, and maybe even other locations across the country.
“My dream is that in a month or two thousands of people all across the country are hosting Saturday morning pancake parties for their friends and neighbors,” he said.
It’s community events like this, Kimball says, that can truly bring communities together.
“I think it’s important because most of our public spaces are dominated by the big arguments over our differences as people,” he explained. “And those things are important. But what feels lost and might be equally important is celebrating each other and our commonalities. We need more chances, as people, to root for each other and to believe in each other as humans.”