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POWER BREAKFAST IS EARLY BIRD SPECIAL AT PANCAKE HOUSE

It's Tuesday, 8 a.m., an hour before the standard workday begins, yet the business deals are already being cut.

Men in blue pinstriped shirts sit comfortably, with coffee in hand, reading the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

"Table for two," an executive-looking type tells the hostess, adding that someone will meet him in a few minutes, obviously to talk business.

At the Original Pancake House.

Who would have thought that the restaurant known for maple syrup and gobs of butter smothered on silver dollar-size pancakes would become the scene for suburban power breakfasts.

Yet, there it is, on Main Street in Williamsville.

Over in Buffalo, the power brokers can be spotted over a hearty dinner at Chef's on Seneca Street, a working lunch at GiGi's on East Ferry Street or maybe a Saturday morning Bloody Mary downtown at the Glass Abbey on Washington Street.

But in upscale Amherst, government and business deals are cut at the Original Pancake House over a dozen flapjacks with a side of sausage.

Well, not exactly.

On this morning, there are about 25 people people sitting in the country kitchen-style restaurant.

Most are men in suit jackets, including salesman, insurance brokers and financial-analyst types. A couple of women dressed for success also are there.

Few are actually eating pancakes. This is a juice, coffee and bagel crowd. Or maybe a bowl of bran cereal with strawberries.

"The pancakes are too big," says Amherst Councilman Bill Kindel. "You can feed a family."

"A lot of people are health-conscious," says Colleen DiPirro, head of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce. "You see some of the older people with eggs and bacon, but I bet 90 percent are doing bagels."

Neither Kindel (strictly an eggs and bacon man) nor Mrs. DiPirro (a bagel and cream cheese woman) are power breakfasting this particular day. But the two confess to being somewhat regulars on the morning-at-the-Pancake-House-circuit.

"I'm there about once a week," Kindel says, citing meetings with developers and others who do business with the town.

"I go to the Pancake House a lot," says Mrs. DiPirro, rattling off people she recently has met there, including Town Justice Mark Farrell and Jim Allen, head of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.

"We do meet an awful lot at the Pancake House," she says. "Maybe it's the place to be seen. You walk in and see a dozen people you know."

Neither Kindel nor Mrs. DiPirro thinks that it's particularly odd to be doing business at 8 a.m. in a restaurant featuring pancakes all day long.

Neither is exactly sure how it came to be.

It's not a political thing, Kindel says. No one associated with the Original Pancake House is connected.

While many customers no doubt have nice things to say about the pancakes, it's not necessarily the featured food on the menu, either, since most of the power breakfast crowd don't pick the pancakes.

"I guess it's centrally located if you're coming in from the north or south," Mrs. DiPirro suggests.

Perhaps.

Or maybe it's just the way business gets done in the suburbs.

No smoke-filled rooms and shots of bourbon here.

Just a bagel and bowl of strawberries.

Or, for the real hearty, a dozen silver dollar pancakes with maple syrup -- hold the butter.

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