BethesdaNow.com sat down with Du-par’s owner W.W. “Biff” Naylor, the California restaurateur and former chairman of the National Restaurant Association, at the Georgetown Square spot where preparations are underway for a Saturday morning opening.
Naylor’s father Tiny Naylor moved to central California from Iowa in 1926 and started Tiny’s Waffle Shops. After World War II, he moved to Southern California and started Tiny Naylor’s and Biff’s, which grew into 40 locations in Los Angeles and Orange County.
Naylor started working for his father when he was 15, then later took over the company and sold it thinking he would retire from the business.
In 2004, he was persuaded to get back in the business by buying Du-par’s, known for its hot cakes and pies.
“People say, ‘Oh, your food is so different.’ I say, ‘No, it’s the same way it was in the 1930’s and 40’s.’ We still make our own pies. We still make our own pastries, our own soups and stews and gravys and everything from scratch. It’s really old-style, old-fashioned.’ We don’t have much of a freezer, just ice cream and french fries,” Naylor said. “It is the most difficult restaurant there is to run because it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner 24 hours a day and we make everything fresh all day.
“So we know nobody wants to work that hard anymore. But we do,” Naylor said. “We like what we do and I tell the guys, ‘If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.'”
Esquire Magazine at one point rated Du-par’s pancakes the best in the country. The secret, Naylor says, is the flour, which comes exclusively from a west coast distributor.
The new Du-par’s Hamburger Hamlet won’t get its first full batch of hot cake flour until next week, so Naylor had the distributor air freight a couple of bags in for tomorrow’s opening.
The new menu retain much of Hamburger Hamlet’s old menu, just with Du-par’s breakfast selections added on. It’ll be the second 24-hour restaurant in Bethesda. Tastee Diner (7731 Woodmont Ave.) in Woodmont Triangle is the other and Naylor hopes to build the same sort of following.
“We’re west coast-based but we know the market,” said Naylor, who went to Penn State and spent some time in the D.C. area with his duties for the restaurant association. “I’m not worried about the occasional snow storm.”