Their passion is contagious, and the food at this family-style restaurant is delectably yummy. I felt invigorated and satiated after eating a hearty breakfast and meeting Debbie and Ben Shahvar, a mother and son team who are part of the ButtercuP Diner family. With five restaurants, it takes a family to run the business. That sense of family carries into the restaurant because many servers and cooks have worked alongside their parents, siblings, or sons and daughters over the years. It is a family affair through and through.
Whether you visit the Northern California towns of Oakland, Concord, Walnut Creek, or Vallejo, you must stop at one of the ButtercuP locations in these cities.
A colleague and I were on a media trip to Concord, California, and our last stop brought us to the ButtercuP Diner, a family-style restaurant, where the food and its quality wowed us. We both walked away, knowing we would showcase the restaurant and its owners first.
The Shahvar Family
It started in the 1980s when David and Debbie Shahzar looked to find an excellent family-style restaurant with homemade food to take their young kids to dinner. David, at the time, worked at an upscale restaurant, Charlie Brown’s. Thus, the concept of ButtercuP ignited in both David and Debbie’s minds.
Today, the entire Shahvar family runs the ButtercuP restaurants, including David and Debbie, their two sons and daughter. The kids describe David as the godfather and Debbie as the recipe developer. Ben runs operations with his brother, who also takes on the tech side of the business. Their daughter helps develop the recipes and handles social media.
The ButtercuP Name
When David and Debbie decided to open a restaurant, they purchased an existing restaurant called Buttercup Kitchen. It originally had been part of a chain called Buttercup Pantry. David and Debbie decided to keep the name since it already had name recognition. The change from Kitchen to Diner represented the concept of the restaurant better.
You might ask why the capitalized P at the end of ButtercuP. Since pies are a signature homemade dessert at the restaurants, the Shahvar’s decided to signify pies with the capital P.
The Family-Style Restaurant Cuisine
Most of the food starts from scratch; the portions are generous and hearty and offer high-quality food at a reasonable price. ButtercuP signifies a family restaurant where you can bring the entire household, excluding pets.
One discovers the Shahvars pride themselves on creating fresh homemade food that represents a grade above what you typically find in other family-style restaurants.
Debbie comes from the south, so many recipes derive from her upbringing. Most recipes come from Debbie’s personal collection, or she takes a new outlook on a familiar recipe. Debbie and the ButtercuP are known for their pies. An example of bringing a fresh perspective is the version of apple pie, a popular pie in the 1980s; Debbie put her own twist on it. Apple pie became Upside-down Apple walnut pie with brown sugar and walnut praline.
One of the signature dishes is the Cinnascuit, a southern-style biscuit dipped in cinnamon sugar and topped with a buttermilk cream cheese frosting. The Cinnascuit theme carries on further to the French Toast, which takes the sliced Cinnascuit and drops it into the French toast batter before cooking and serving it with maple syrup and a berry compote.
The Cinnascuit came about when Ben Shahvar said, “we need a signature breakfast treat.” Today it is a ButtercuP specialty.
Debbie’s favorite dessert is her Cheesecake and her favorite pie, the Coconut Cream Pie.
Breakfast at ButtercuP Diner
When I think of the breakfast at ButtercuP, I think of those family breakfasts my family partook in when I was a young child. We would each order something different, but it turned out to be a colorful array of delicious breakfast dishes.
During our recent visit to ButtercuP, we were served a selection of breakfast dishes. These included the Cinnascuit, Cinnascuit French Toast, Belgian Waffle, Vegetarian Benedict made with grilled spinach, grilled tomatoes, and avocado on an English muffin topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, Shrimp and Grits, and Corned Beef Hash and Eggs.
My sampling of each dish was excellent. It all depends on what you crave on that particular day.
Lunch and Dinner at ButtercuP Diner
I heard that some of the dinner specialties are the Prime Rib and Mom’s Meatloaf. As a lover of salads at lunch, looking at the list of nine different salad offerings, almost everyone would satisfy my need for greens and veggies.
Visiting ButtercuP Diner
The best way to describe the ButtercuP Diner is fresh homemade American cuisine in a family-style restaurant with addictive pastry creations.
With locations in Concord, Oakland, Walnut Creek, and Vallejo, I highly recommend trying at least one ButtercuP Diner when visiting the East Bay area. Of course, I would recommend Concord first and foremost since my ButtercuP discovery has its roots in Concord, California.
Most the restaurant locations are open seven days a week from 7 am – 9 pm
Note: Common to the industry, this writer received a hosted meal. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.