Tuesday, November 29, 2022

‘My wife says I’m getting weird’: Man offers free pancakes to make friends

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“My wife says I’m getting weird,” Kimball typed on sheets of paper, which he then taped to phone poles across the Bernal Heights neighborhood. “She says I need to make friends. So I’m making pancakes.”

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He offered an tackle, a time and different particulars, and added: “Come by and say hi and have some pancakes with me.”

“I wasn’t expecting anyone to show up because I didn’t know if people read fliers,” Kimball mentioned.

Then he noticed almost 100 neighbors assembled in entrance of his home, primed for the inaugural pancake get together Jan. 22, and he determined: “I guess they do.”

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Kimball got here up with the idea of internet hosting a pancake get together as a way of bringing some pleasure to his neighborhood, the place he has lived for a couple of 12 months along with his wife and two daughters. Given the pandemic, it’s been troublesome to meet individuals, he mentioned, and “I just don’t know how grown-ups make friends.”

“I don’t mind looking foolish,” Kimball defined. “So, I was like, ‘I bet I could just put myself out there and maybe something would happen.’ ”

Still, “everybody in my life thought I was insane,” he mentioned. “It’s a pretty vulnerable feeling to do something that outlandish in public.”

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When requested “why pancakes?” Kimball mentioned his reasoning was easy: “Even if you don’t like to eat pancakes, you just like the idea of them,” he mentioned. “Being around pancakes feels good, even if you’re not eating them yourself.”

Either means, he mentioned, “if you see someone making pancakes for strangers, you’d probably think that person is nice.”

It seems, his neighbors concurred. Not solely have been they intrigued by the pancakes, however like Kimball, they have been hungry for extra than simply breakfast. They have been craving connection.

The neighborhood, which is basically residential, overlooks the San Francisco skyline. It’s stuffed with a number of households, Kimball mentioned, but additionally many longtime residents and youthful individuals, given its proximity to well-liked nightlife spots.

“We’ve all been spending time isolated and haven’t been as social,” mentioned Julie Zigoris, 42, who attended each pancake events along with her husband and two daughters, ages 4 and 6. “There is something so nice about … just hearing new voices and having that excitement of meeting new people.”

When she stumbled upon one in every of Kimball’s fliers in January, “I was immediately captivated,” she mentioned.

What Zigoris appreciated most in regards to the preliminary gathering was that “it was really relaxed and laid back and it was a nice smattering of people,” she mentioned.

To her shock, one of many neighbors in attendance was at her PhD protection in Pittsburgh 15 years in the past, and he or she had not seen him since, nor did she know he was residing within the space.

“It was such a shock to see this person from my past four doors down from me,” Zigoris mentioned.

Beyond the random reconnections, of which there have been a couple of, the occasion basically “was a great opportunity to get to know our neighbors in this very casual, lighthearted way,” Zigoris mentioned. Plus, “the pancakes were delicious, too.”

In preparation for the pancake get together, Kimball — who owned “The Crème Brûlée Cart” meals truck — experimented with a lot of totally different recipes earlier than perfecting his pancake batter.

His flapjacks use a traditional method of flour, eggs and milk, however “I’ve upped the fat content a bit, and I use a little too much vanilla,” he mentioned, including that he plans to publish the recipe on an internet site he’s creating “to give people a guide to doing their own” neighborhood occasions.

People raved about Kimball’s desserts, however primarily, he sensed they weren’t there for the meals. Rather, they confirmed up for the somewhat-forgotten feeling of togetherness that was misplaced amid the pandemic.

“It was the best vibe I had felt in a long time. It was really refreshing to see people smiling and enjoying themselves,” he mentioned. “We’ve got to celebrate each other as people a lot more.”

At each occasions, Kimball lined the price of the pancakes and toppings, and neighbors introduced stuff to share, resembling espresso, do-it-yourself honey and lemon curd. Many individuals requested to contribute funds, Kimball mentioned, so he lately determined to begin a GoFundMe to make future pancake events extra financially sustainable, significantly since curiosity appears to be rising. Kimball mentioned roughly 300 individuals confirmed up on the second gathering Saturday.

Ari Chae, 29, is a kind of individuals. She enthusiastically attended each occasions and introduced friends alongside for the enjoyable.

“This is the type of weird experience that I associate with San Francisco,” mentioned Chae, who has lived within the neighborhood for simply over a 12 months. “The ability to go out and have pancakes with random people was just great.”

The pancake get together served the identical function for Eyal Cohen, 37, who lives subsequent door to Kimball.

“I was really pleasantly surprised to see how many people came out for it,” he mentioned. “It was all generations. It was pretty great.”

“I think people would see this event and immediately wonder, ‘Wait, why don’t we do something like this?’ ” Cohen continued. “I think he inspired a lot of people.”

For Kimball, encouraging others to comply with swimsuit is his principal mission.

“I’m hoping I can be the match and the fire spreads,” he mentioned. “I’m hoping my push will push others. Maybe people will see my little thing, and maybe they’ll do their own little thing, and then maybe all those things will add up to a big thing.”

His final aim is to begin “a national neighborhood pancake day and have everyone do it on the same day and same time and carb up the whole country,” Kimball quipped. “How awesome would that be?”

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