Zachary’s co-owner Cathy Kriege.

Zachary’s is home of the ceviche omelet, one of the stranger and tastier breakfast specials downtown. It’s also home to large crowds that mill outside the Pacific Avenue restaurant, waiting for a table and some tasty pancakes. We caught up with Cathy Kriege, who co-owns the joint with her husband Tom Watson, about what life is like at the helm of a Santa Cruz culinary staple.

SCW: How did Mike’s Mess get its name?

CATHY KRIEGE: That was from way back in the ‘80s. At that point in time our dish line was in the kitchen—we were half the size we are now. And my husband asked [a dishwasher named] Mike what he would like for breakfast, and he said, ‘Oh just throw everything in the pan.’ So, Tom created it and then refined it and it became Mike’s Mess. It’s named for the guy who requested it, not the guy who invented it.

How do you feel about eggs for lunch or dinner?

We serve everything all day. We have people come in and have burgers at seven in the morning. Lots of people have brunch and breakfast items later in the day.

Are you a morning person?

Not particularly. But I like having my evenings free, so that’s one of the reasons we just do breakfast and lunch. We really like the atmosphere of breakfast and lunch. Dinner’s more formal. Breakfast and lunch are casual. It can be more of a community place. Our son now is 24, but doing breakfast and lunch, we were able to do evenings with him and pick him up from school.

Is there a lunch item that gets overlooked?

We’re really known for our breakfasts, and they sell more. I think people don’t realize how good our burgers and sandwiches are. We make all our bread here. When people have the burger, they’re hooked. I think it’s the best burger in town.

Is this place named after Zach Friend?

When we bought this restaurant it was called Zachary’s in ’85. It was a ribbon steakhouse. We already had a restaurant in Capitola for a year and a half. And when we moved here, we thought it would be too confusing to change the name.