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The Buzz: Apple Valley Pancake House opens |

The Buzz: Apple Valley Pancake House opens

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The latest restaurant openings, closings and what’s ahead. Read more at postcrescent.com/buzz. (Maureen Wallenfang/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
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Apple Valley Pancake House opened its doors Wednesday in Appleton after a long struggle to upgrade a restaurant building that had been vacant for five years.

The building is at 500 E. Wisconsin Ave., and previously housed La Bamba and Rancho Azul.

Apple Valley Pancake House’s owner, Ali Useini, is a familiar face in the Fox Cities restaurant scene.

He previously operated Neenah’s Twin City Diner, which was torn down in 2015 when Aldi built its new store on the site.

Useini said there are no similarities between his past and current restaurants. The menu, staff and atmosphere have all changed.

He has a positive feeling about the new location.

“We had 60 customers for breakfast the first day, and all I did was change the sign to ‘now open.’ That’s pretty good. The first customer was waiting by the door at 7 a.m.” he said. “They say in Albania that the first meal is free for good luck. His name was Jerry and he got a free meal. He gave me a $2 bill and I put it up on the wall.”

Useini’s family moved to America 26 years ago when he was in second grade. This will be the fifth restaurant he has owned or operated. His brother runs Galvan’s, also in Appleton.

“The three key ingredients in a restaurant are fresh and good food, a clean place and quick service. You shouldn’t have to flag down a waitress,” he said.

He went with a breakfast/lunch model so he would have family time and could be a soccer dad after school. He’s teaching his 10-year-old daughter Arianna his work ethic by having her occasionally bus tables and help seat customers. “It’s a source of discipline,” he said.

Useini announced his pancake house was coming in May, but then was bogged down with unanticipated plumbing, electrical work and a new exhaust hood. He sunk $50,000 into upgrades. If all goes well, he’ll move from leasing to buying the building.

“It was totally worth it. Everything is up-to-date,” he said.

Apple Valley serves breakfast and lunch. Pancakes, crepes and waffles start around $5. Lunch sandwiches and burgers start around $8, including soup and choice of side. He offers salads, wraps and panini, omelets, skillets and gluten-free pancakes.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. everyday. Phone: 920-221-3661. No Facebook or website so far.

Maureen Wallenfang: 920-993-7116, or mwallenfang@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @wallenfang

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