Philacatessen | First Watch: The Daytime Café

Photos by Keri White

With locations in Villanova, Wynnewood and Newtown Square, First Watch Daytime Cafe offers a varied menu, farm-fresh/organic ingredients, gluten-free/allergy-aware guides, an open kitchen, friendly service and a bright, airy atmosphere. It is a solid choice for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

The name comes from a nautical term that refers to a ship crew’s first shift of the day. Because the First Watch Restaurant crew starts early, baking and preparing for the breakfast crowd, the name fits.

My first visit to First Watch was a breakfast meeting with a colleague who regularly eats “kosher style.” First Watch is not kosher, but offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, as well as turkey/chicken sausages in lieu of pork.

I ordered the lemon-ricotta pancakes. These were delicious — the multigrain pancake batter was blended with whipped ricotta cheese and topped with fresh berries and lemon curd. It was almost dessert. My companion had a (much healthier) power breakfast bowl, which featured quinoa and various cooked vegetables topped with scrambled eggs and served with whole-wheat toast.

The menu allows for as healthy (or not) choices as guests desire. It offers everything from a juice bar, avocado toast, omelets, power bowls, breakfast sandwiches and tacos, to French toast and a selection of pancakes. Biscuits and gravy, potatoes, fresh fruit, turkey/chicken sausages, grits and toast round out the side options.

Lunch offered equivalent variety.

I thoroughly enjoyed the superfood kale salad, which contained kale and organic mixed greens with maple-roasted carrots, roasted chicken breast, dried cranberries and slivered almonds. The maple-lemon vinaigrette complemented the sweet/savory combination of ingredients beautifully. There are plenty of salads on offer, as well as a number of sandwiches — roast beef, chicken salad, grilled cheese and several seasonal and daily specials. Soups include tomato-basil, hearty vegetable and several others depending on the time of year.

First Watch also offers a children’s menu with a number of accessible, healthy breakfast/lunch selections.

The company and the concept of First Watch are well-established. It launched in Pacific Grove Calif., more than 30 years ago. In 1986, Ken Pendery, the current CEO, then a partner in the venture, moved the corporate headquarters to Florida, and grew the enterprise into a nationwide chain with more than 275 restaurants in 20 states.

It has won various awards for service, food and business practices and, despite being a large corporate entity, actively promotes community involvement with each of its franchises. Nationwide charitable initiatives include Share Our Strength, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Society; the local restaurants are encouraged to support community-based nonprofits.

Local First Watch Restaurants can be found at;

31 E. Wynnewood Road

Wynnewood Pa., 19096



775 East Lancaster Ave., No. 140

Villanova, Pa., 19085



3735 West Chester Pike, Suite 202

Newtown Square, Pa., 19073


The restaurants are open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.


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