Our History

Like many great stories throughout history, ours starts with a mistake. The year was 1955 and John Dys was living in the Netherlands. At some point John had a great idea. Join the army. And like most men with great ideas, this one didn’t work.

Shortly after joining, John wanted “out.” Luckily the Dutch army provided three convenient options: Die, retire or leave the country. Option three seemed nice. So he packed his bags and left for Canada.

While checking out Vancouver, John was in a bad car accident. Not only that, he ran out of money waiting for his settlement. He had no choice but to scour the classifieds looking for work. That’s when he found, “Young man wanted to learn the restaurant business.” Barely having money for food, this seemed like a good opportunity.

After learning a few things, John opened his own place in 1970. He called it the “Frying Dutchman” and his hamburger sales became famous for predicting elections. He called them “Hamburger Polls.”

On a trip home to the Netherlands, his father took him to a traditional Dutch restaurant where pannekoeken are served for lunch and dinner. Not breakfast. John decided then and there he would bring the pannekoek back to Canada. And so, the first “Original Dutch Pannekoek House” opened July of 1975 on the corner of Knight Street and 25th Avenue in Vancouver. This location is still in operation today.

By the time the third one opened on Main Street and Terminal, John had created a unique breakfast restaurant with an emphasis on quality food. People couldn’t pronounce the “P Word,” but they sure loved to eat it.

Right around this time John met Bill Waring. Bill was a young sales rep for a dairy company that John used. Soon after meeting, Bill opened the first Frying Dutchman franchise in 1979.

But things didn’t always go so smoothly. The 80’s brought a bad recession with a simultaneous increase in competition. Both the Frying Dutchman and the Original Dutch Pannekoek House survived. But after things got better, John and Bill focused on the more successful business. The Original Dutch Pannekoek House. Although today, you probably know it as “De Dutch.”

With 23 restaurants and more on the way, the pannekoek’s future looks bright. John has since semi-retired and Bill is now President.

And to think, this whole thing started with a young man joining the army.