Surf’s up: Skyline alumni catches waves with food industry success

Robby Bancroft continues to make his mark on Pacifica with enthusiasm


Robby Bancroft

The 35-year-old Bancroft is obsessed with helping others and views perfectionism as a non-existent label.

Robby Bancroft was intrigued when his cell phone started ringing. The caller ID on Robby Bancroft’s cell phone blinked ferociously, revealing his father’s urgent request. Without hesitation, Bancroft dropped everything and picked up the call.

“I’m doing it, we have to,” his father, Steve, said from the other line.

The father-son duo had just finalized plans to open a new restaurant in Pacifica: a breakfast, brunch and lunch spot right on the water in Rockaway Beach. They received help from an angel investor and everything was set according to plan. But this phone call had a different vibe, one that was filled with uncertainty and risk. PG&E had placed a three-day notice on their door and a possible eviction was waiting in the wings. In the ultimate rush, Robby barreled himself in the car and drove down to the restaurant to help open the doors of Pacifica’s newest diner.

Seven years later, Breakers Breakfast, Brunch, and Lunch is thriving as the number one ranked restaurant on TripAdvisor and Yelp. The investors are out of the picture and the father-son duo now has full ownership of the joint venture with Robby Bancroft as the mastermind behind getting the word out; promoting the family’s passionate love of food and hospitality the only way he knows how: enthusiastically.

“I do more of the backend stuff,” Bancroft said. “I could name like a laundry list of stuff;Surg communications, marketing, business development, admin and then assisting for my dad if he needs anything done for him so that he can focus on Breakers. I’m more like the man in the chair and he’s like Spider-Man.”

After graduating from Terra Nova High School in 2004, Bancroft enrolled in classes at Skyline College, a place he admired because of the intense diversity and committed administration. It was at Skyline he first tested out hospitality skills while promoting the school newspaper and participating in several fundraisers around campus. He was relentless, filling people around him with bursts of energy and comfortability.

“I feel like (it comes) naturally, or maybe because my dad and my mom were both in business and sales,” Bancroft said. “It was natural to get the word out about stuff, and so now I’m just putting that into practice and it doesn’t come as hard. I don’t have to reach in my bag as deep.”

While going through junior college, Bancroft experienced his first taste of the restaurant industry, accepting a job at Chili’s in San Bruno. At the time, the idea of earning a college degree wasn’t a top priority in order to get a job — that generation would soon follow — so in a way, valuable lessons from Chili’s transformed into an on-the-spot education opportunity.

Bancroft looked around the restaurant and saw a crowd that originated from all walks of life. Older people and younger people alike were enjoying the presence of paying customers who loved the food. What’s the point in having a high-profile job when I’m having fun and making money here, he thought. One of the main takeaways from his tenure at Chili’s was an acronym they used while dealing with customers: L A S T stands for listen, apologize, solve and thank.

The more Bancroft involved himself in hospitality and the community, the acronym acted as a key guideline. Steve had once served as the general manager of Stacks in Burlingame, so the idea of being involved with a restaurant wasn’t completely foreign, but there was still much to learn.

“I joke around that getting the food out to the table is like the easy part,” Robby said. “But it’s the vibe. It’s the welcoming and knowledgeable staff that you put in place. When you’re hosting a party, even at your house, you want to make sure everything’s as perfect as possible. And so food is just an element of that.”

When they were about to first open their doors, Steve told his son that customers would come back for good food and bad service, not bad food and bad service.

“Robby and I are in each other’s heads,” Steve said. “I think he finally just found his niche. He got more confident. He’s in his grove, he loves to market and he loves what the industry is doing. Being that I raised him by myself, it’s a dream come true and hard to put words to.”

Co-owner of a breakfast and lunch joint is far from the entire story of Robby Bancroft. He wears multiple hats in Pacifica, almost the amount that makes residents shake their heads and ask themselves how he could be everywhere at once.

He definitely tries to be.

For many years he served as a development coordinator for the Pacifica Resource Center (PRC), a social service agency that focuses on supporting the economic needs of individuals by providing food, housing assistance, coaching, and a plethora of other services.

“Robby has a way of making everyone around him excited about even the smallest things,” said Mary Bier, Pacifica city councilmember. “He creates fun and purpose at the same time. Working with Robby has been a learning experience for me. He has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and helped me to realize that I am able to achieve far more than I realized. He has made me a stronger person.”

PRC connected him with numerous members of the community and he’s befriended some of Pacifica’s top faces as a result ––– many of whom he’s featured on his podcast which he records from inside Breakers in a booth.

Broadcasting is an up-and-coming venture for the marketing wiz. Bancroft hopes to form his own podcasting network, one that will shed a light on local businesses, generate important conversations, and create a positive and uplifting vibe around his hometown.

In September, he was featured on KQED’s “Check, Please! You Gotta Try This,” a show that is themed around food tasting from Bay Area establishments. His appearance blew up his phone.

“It’s actually pretty surprising, I knew the show was popular in the Bay Area,” Bancroft said. “But not to the point where my distant aunts, uncles, people actually I went to Skyline with, a few people who I haven’t talked to forever send me messages on Instagram.”

Bancroft can be spotted in many locations throughout Pacifica, and it’s not uncommon for someone to hear him before they see him in his usual beanie or backward cap with bleached blonde hair. The colorful personality is amplified by the individuals he surrounds himself with, he says.

“He truly cares about the city and he believes in the strength of community,” Bier said. “He has a way of bringing people in to care about the community, too. Robby understands the struggles of living in the Bay Area as well as the success of starting a business here. His personal experience in life and his compassion for those who need support show in everything he does.”

The 35-year-old is obsessed with helping others and views perfectionism as a non-existent label. Out of all the hats he wears combined with the different people he impacts with his authenticity, Bancroft always finds himself crawling back to his roots.

And that’s the locked and strong bond he shares with his father.

“My kids might be running Breakers one day, so I can’t say that opening up a restaurant with my dad wasn’t the thing I was most proud of,” Bancroft said. “This keeps our family whole and this allows us to do the things that we can in the community for anyone that needs it.”