Pancake breakfast serves up support for Iron Works

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

Chances are if you live in Columbiana, Shelby or any of the other surrounding areas of south Shelby County, you’ve at least heard of the Shelby Iron Works monthly pancake breakfast. You may have even joined in for the feast of pancakes, bacon, sausage and coffee.

The Shelby Iron Works Pancake Breakfast is one of the most successful ongoing local fundraisers that has, from its inception, been crucial to the preservation of one of Shelby County’s greatest historical assets.

History lovers and community builders from all over the south Shelby area gather to fellowship and feast on $5 regular or $6 cinnamon swirl pancakes on the first Saturday of each month.
It’s been successful, but it now has the opportunity to be even more successful thanks to several local business sponsors that have stepped up to help cover the costs of the breakfast each month.
Joe Hutto of VJ’s Restaurant in Shelby donates a portion of the 45 pounds of bacon that is served to supporters every month. This makes an impact on covering costs so that the funds raised go further.

Mike Nicholas is the manager of Stokes Automotive under the Big Peach in Clanton. He has been a long-time supporter of the Iron Works and signed on this year to continue as a financial sponsor for the monthly event.
Anish Noorani, owner of Beeswax, Spring Creek Grocery, Shelby Exxon and most recently Feel Good Pita in Columbiana, is also providing funds to help offset the $450 in supplies it takes to put on the pancake breakfast.

The pancake breakfast is just one of the many ongoing events that ensure the preservation of the Iron Works.

“We still need sponsors for our Spring Car Show and Fall Festival every year,” executive director Jennifer Maier said. “We always make sure that our sponsors get good publicity in return for their support.”

The army of volunteers that help each month come from all over. They not only run the kitchen itself, but make sure the gift shop and museums are manned for the guests too.
Beloved Dan “The Pancake Man” Valles decided to turn in his spatula at the end of 2019, and long-time supporter John Perkins has stepped up to take his place each month.

“We are looking for other people to help us at the griddle,” Maier said. “It can be a labor-intensive job, and we can always use a little more help.”

Maier said there is a core group of people that has come to the breakfast each month for years.

“I don’t think there are many events that can claim to have a ‘following,’ but I can attest that what we have at the park is indeed a following,” she said. “They are very welcoming to the new faces that show up the first Saturday of the month. It is a family. A very large and hungry family.”

If you’d like to know more about sponsoring or volunteering with the Shelby Iron Works, contact Jennifer Maier at jmaier483@gmail.com.