Local exploration: Oakland’s Early Bird Restaurant

When I first came to Colby, I knew little about Central Maine. I had no idea what to expect in the way of local restaurants and did not even know how much I would leave campus. I did know that no matter what I needed to find a local diner with good breakfast food. Luckily, my second week on campus freshman year, I found Early Bird.

Going to diners on Sunday mornings has been a family tradition for me as far back as I can remember. I grew up in Northern California, and for the 13 years I lived there, I never stopped going to a local diner called Gillwoods Café. I loved almost everything on their menu and prided myself on being a regular. I even brought a Gillwoods coffee mug to my dorm at Colby.

I never thought another breakfast place could replace Gillwoods for me, but Early Bird has certainly come close. While there are occasionally menu items that should be avoided, it is pretty hard to beat— cheap, large portions, great food, friendly servers, and a great atmosphere. I have lost count of the number of times I have been there.

Early Bird Restaurant is located in Oakland, Maine, a quick and scenic five-minute drive from Colby. As you might expect from its name, it opens at 4:45 A.M. and stays open until 2 P.M, serving breakfast and lunch, though breakfast is served all hours,

While the building does not stand out from the road, the atmosphere inside is not to be missed. If you go on a Sunday morning, you will usually see other tables of Colby students and faculty, but it is mostly older locals.

The breakfast menu is numbered 1 to 18 and offers a variety of sizable meal combos, most under $10. I almost always get the #5, which consists of two eggs (any style), bacon or sausage, toast, and home fries or hash browns. The hash browns, especially if you ask for them well done, are definitely superior to the home fries, and I usually prefer the bacon over the sausage. This whole combo, even with large portions, costs only $5.30. If I want more food, I will sometimes add on the #11, which is two pancakes for $3.00, or the #9, which is three pieces of French toast for $3.30. Also worthy of mention are the cinnamon rolls, which can be served grilled. The pancakes are one of the only items on the menu I have had that are sometimes below par, as they are occasionally under cooked.

Several other breakfast menu items at Early Bird are definitely worth giving a try. The #13 offers a variety of omelet choices ranging from $3.50 to $5.50, all served with toast. The #14, eggs benedict for $5.50, is also a popular item. You can also choose between a breakfast sandwich (#15) for $2.95 or a breakfast wrap (#18) for $4.50.

The service at Early Bird is always quick. Coffee will arrive at your table within moments of ordering, and the food in under five minutes. It is not unusual to pay your check within a half hour of sitting down, even if you’re with a large group. On Sunday mornings, because of its popularity, there is often a wait to sit down, but because of how fast the meals go I have never waited for longer than 10-15 minutes for a table, even with long lines.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Early Bird does not accept credit or debit cards, so remember to bring cash in advance, or to stop by an ATM on the way. While this can be annoying, it certainly adds to the traditional diner atmosphere.

Overall, its fast pace and close proximity to Colby makes it a perfect destination even if you have a busy Sunday, because you can get quality breakfast food and coffee quickly without sacrificing work time. As someone who loves traditional diners and breakfast food, I am very happy I found Early Bird at Colby, and it will definitely be my breakfast place of choice throughout my time here.

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