Fiction Friday – I H O P

Don’t laugh, I have the word house in my sign out front. I am one of gazillions of International House of Pancakes. Okay, maybe not a gazillion but there are over fifteen thousand I H O Ps in fifty states.

The place is all about breakfast, pancakes, waffles, omelets and anything breakfast. They also serve lunch and dinner. It isn’t fine dining by a long shot.

Jerry Lapin, Al Lapin and Albert Kallis founded IHOP in 1958 with the help of Sherwood Rosenberg and William Kaye. The idea was to run a restaurant which featured various types of pancakes and similar foods such as crepes and blintzes from all over the world at low prices. I H O P is known for the syrup choices. Over time the menu included lunch and dinner options. The company associated with Orange Juliius also owned IHOP. Yes, that sounds canned. But I abbreviated the spiel for you.

The new employees almost have to memorize that bit of history.

The couple that operates this part of the chain is really into the history. They want the crew to feel a part of I H O P in hopes of keeping the staff turnover low.

I haven’t been here but a smidge over ten years but I have favorite workers and favorite clients.

There is a lady who must be in her ninety’s by now, she comes every morning. She drives up in her huge luxury car with the molded tire spare tire shape on the trunk. Powder blue and huge. I don’t know how old the car is but it is made of metal not plastic. Must guzzle the gas.

The woman climbs out of her car usually parked next to the handicapped spot. She doesn’t use the blue spot unless she has to. She is frail and dresses warm all year long.

Everyone knows her by name. She always gets right in, they usher her like royalty to the back of the seating area. The coffee pot and hot water are there before she sits down.

The woman is always nice to the staff and the new ones consider their training mostly done and their job secure when they get assigned to the old woman’s booth.

She chats about her family, oh, they are all grown up now. She had five children. Widowed in her fifties. She outlived one child who was killed in one of the wars. The rest are happily living out of state.

Over the past ten years I’ve seen the woman in all sorts of moods. Most of the time she is spunky. She pours some hot water into her coffee and cuts the stout out of it then orders the same number two senior breakfast ‘over medium.’ She doesn’t tip beyond her means.

She seems to leave a bit spunkier than she came in and I know the staff looks forward to her arrival.

Her name is Jenny Ryley and most people just call her Mrs. R. I know my day has started when Mrs. R. pulls up in the parking lot.

I am one of over fifteen hundred International House of Pancakes. Funny though, I think we are mostly a US and territories chain. I’ll have to check on that.

And yes, I’ve heard the one about ‘the one legged waitress.’