On the Line: Sheri Drewry Of Wilma's Patio, Part One
A Balboa mainstay
Photo by LP Hastings
Researching a family-owned restaurant always uncovers a story. In the case of Wilma's Patio, it spans over 30 years on picturesque Balboa Island. Wilma passed away earlier this year, but her establishment lives on thanks to daughter Sheri, plus her kitchen and dining room family.
How long have you been in business? We have been in business since September 1982; we just had our 32nd anniversary!
Why did the restaurant move in 1997? Because of a lawsuit for ADA (Americans Disability Act) we were too small too correct space issues. Plus, our clientele had grown. So we "grew up" into a larger space.
Where was your most recent meal? Here at Wilma's. Three cheese grilled cheese sandwich.
Best culinary tip for the home cook: There are no rules to cooking. Follow your taste buds, and use some spices that you like.
Your earliest food memory: My dad always made breakfast on the weekends growing up. He would make eggs, pancakes, bacon and fruit. He would wake up everyone, and we would eat poolside when the weather was nice.
We hear breakfast is the meal to get; what are your best-sellers? Breakfast was my dad's favorite meal, so he really knew how to put out a good breakfast! Our menu has something for everyone, so I think that some standouts are the egg enchiladas, huevos rancheros, omelets, pancakes (In the fall, we offer pumpkin pancakes that are something special), waffles, French toast, and of course our Belly Bombers!
What's in the Balboa Belly Bomber? A Belly Bomber is a big egg sandwich. We start with a mini boule (bread bowl), hollow it out and stuff it with any egg scramble combination you like!
What is your beverage of choice? Our coffee. It is Italian "Costadoro". Or our fresh squeezed orange juice.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?): Too many to choose from. The last that comes to mind is using corned beef hash on eggs Benedict. And yes, we did it.
Favorite places to eat. Crab Cooker, Bayside in the bar for tapas, Capital Grille for something special.
What do you recommend for first-timers? Something that you don't get at home! Try one of our many special dishes-- crab eggs Benedict or any Mexican egg dishes!
Favorite meal growing up: My mom's homemade lasagna and lemon meringue pie.
Let's talk about Wilma, whom the restaurant is named after. My mom grew up very poor on a farm in Colorado. She met my dad in the one room schoolhouse, and later in high school began dating him. They eloped to California in 1947. They bought a restaurant on Balboa Island while having lunch at Vann's Belgian Waffles. They asked if the restaurant was for sale while dining, and the rest is history!
During the remodel, the architect thought we should name the restaurant Wilma's because it was catchy and unique. She never liked her name, and was not sure about the naming of the restaurant after herself, but it was perfect!
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.