GRAND LAKE - With the nickname "Mr. Pancake," Frank Appelhans has held the spatula for 38 years as a Rotarian, flipping flapjacks for the club's annual pancake breakfasts in the town park.
He "graduated" to pancake duty after serving a few years cooking sausage, he said, starting in the 1970s. He's held his position without a demotion since.
"You've got to start somewhere," he said.
In his estimation, he has grilled at least 52,000 pancakes during his volunteer hours at Grand Lake's Fourth of July and Buffalo Barbecue celebrations.
Needless to say, the man knows how to make a pancake.
"There's a reason we call him Mr. Pancake," said fellow Rotarian Larry Bacon. "He makes the best most perfectly shaped and most eatable pancakes. And he can even make a Mickey Mouse pancake for a kid upon request."
Making pancakes is all in the batter, Appelhans said.
The Grand Lake Rotary uses a special "secret" ingredient in its pancakes, which makes them particularly fluffy. Included in the recipe is about 300 pounds of pancake mix per summer breakfast event.
In a trailer at the park acquired for the pancake breakfasts, Rotarians mix the batter using a large mixer and bring it to Applehans in 5-gallon buckets at-a-time. Appelhans sees to it the grills used for pancakes are hot enough, and especially, evenly heated.
This Fourth of July for the first time, Appelhans' son Travis will be joining him at the grill to learn his dad's expert flipping techniques.
At $6 a plate for adults, the pancake breakfast have been able to fund a variety of scholarships provided by Rotary, according to Bacon. Among them are a $1,000 scholarship to the Park Ranger Academy, a $2,000 Spitzmiller vocational scholarship, sponsorships for the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre's youth theatre workshops and for the Rotary's Leadership Academy in Estes Park, and support for various nonprofits throughout the county.
- Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603