Chris Syregelas knows a good thing when he sees it.
A Chicago native, Syregelas watched his family find success in the restaurant business in and around his hometown, including the bustling corner of Rush and Division streets.
His family started Butterfields in Illinois and, when a family member retired in Scottsdale, they brought it here. That expanded to Butters Pancakes and Cafe, a favorite of actresses, actors and members of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The restaurant recently opened a second shop in Scottsdale Airpark, at Raintree and Northsight.
“It was a good location,” says Syregelas, who also owns Butterfield’s Pancake House and Restaurant in Scottsdale. “It’s killing it, numbers wise. It way surpassed what (the original) Butters did when it first opened.
“We’ve been asked probably five to 10 times a month to franchise or open a restaurant somewhere in the United States or internationally. It’s an easy opportunity that we could have taken advantage of, but we don’t want to do that.”
Syregelas fears that it may dilute the market, like many other restaurants have done. Limiting the business to three restaurants, Syregelas finds Butters busy each morning, but the wait goes by quickly because of the efficiency of the staff. The price point is low. Omelets start at $9.50, the signature pancakes at $6.75.
“Our formula for success? We don’t mess around,” Syregelas says. “We manage our stores very tightly.”
Anybody can make eggs, pancakes or omelets if they’re given enough time. Butters’ staff can make those dishes consistently great, 600 to 1,000 times a day under pressure, with a 6- to 8-minute delivery time, he says.
“That’s where we shine,” he says. “These fancy restaurants have a great dish. You know, whatever is hip or it’s something really cool, really funky. Taste it, and it’ll be great. But if you come back with family, friends or business colleagues, it may not be the same.
“It’s easy to do one person at a time and it’s really hard to flood a kitchen with parties of 12, 16 or 20 and pump out a good product. We really have dedicated staff. We live and breathe this. This is all we do.”
He’s determined to help fellow local businesses, too. Syregelas buys eggs solely from Hickman’s Family Farms in Buckeye, and purchases food from Shamrock Farms. His coffee is provided by Passport Coffee & Tea in the Airpark.
“The family eats at the restaurant two times a week,” he says. “We establish relationships with our purveyors, and, given our attention to detail, we tell them what we expect from them.”
Butters’ diners expect a lot, too. Recent visitors include Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”), Scottsdale native Chelsea Kane (“Baby Daddy”) and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have bragged about the restaurant on TV specials.
“We build our company one customer at a time,” he says. “We rely on that customer to tell another about our business. It’s organic growth. That is sustaining and long lasting.
‘I don’t go to restaurants that have not been in existence long. I want five to 10 years of history behind that, with consistent quality. I’m not attracted to flashes-in-the-pan, cool concepts.”
Syregelas’ career has come full circle. As a child working in Chicago at his dad’s restaurant, he would give change to baseball legend Steve Stone.
“He realized that was me,” he says. “We’ve been feeding for 40 years, from Chicago to here. We became friends. That’s the kind of relationship we’re looking for. We want customers to dine with us forever.
“We want to feed them. We care about them. That’s how we run this business.”
Butters Pancakes and Café
14795 N. Northsight Boulevard
Butters Pancakes and Café
8390 E. Via de Ventura, Suite F108
Butterfield’s Pancake House and Restaurant
7388 E. Shea Boulevard
– Christina Fuoco-Karasinski, The Entertainer! Magazine / Edited for Phoenix.org