What happened to Rutland's IHOP? Well, you may have to wait a long time before the popular franchise restaurant opens here. For International House of Pancakes (IHOP) Restaurant fans, Vermont's lack of an IHOP made the state appear a tad behind the times - at least when it came to moderate, family dining outlets operated by national franchises.
Like it or not, select franchise restaurants such as IHOP are popular with many residents traveling out of state. When they return to Vermont it's a let down. While it's not opening in Rutland, Vermont's first IHOP officially opened in the University Mall in South Burlington March 24.
The Handy family of Chittenden County are the owners of the new mall-anchor IHOP and they have big plans for the restaurant's recognized name in the state.
According to Sam Handy, Jr., general manager of the University Mall's IHOP, the restaurant was in the works for five years. It had been planned originally to open in Rutland, but those plans are now on hold, sort of, as the Handys ramp up their Chittenden County operation.
"We originally planned to open our IHOP in Rutland," Handy said, "but we ran into Act 250 problems, so we had a better time opening in South Burlington. We've been approved to build in Rutland, but we're now focusing on South Burlington."
There's little chance IHOP will have trouble attracting Vermont customers. The Glendale, Calif.-based restaurant chain, owned by DineEquity, Inc., has done very well since its founding in a Los Angeles suburb in 1958.
This week's IHOP opening in Vermont was a big deal indeed - it was IHOP's 50th state as well as the first IHOP ever built in a shopping mall. IHOP CEO Julia Stewart flew into town to be on hand for the grand opening.
"We opened less than one year after IHOP's 50th anniversary," Handy said.
Handy said all IHOP restaurants feature moderately priced, high-quality food and beverages. Friendly table service is provided in an attractive and comfortable environment.
"IHOP is known for award-winning pancakes, omelettes and other breakfast specialties," Handy said, "but we're open throughout the day and evening hours and offer a broad array of lunch, dinner, salads, and snack items as well."
Jaimie Polli, University Mall marketing director, said his office has received an average of five telephone calls a day since September when restaurant plans were first announced.
"Everyone wanted to know when the IHOP was going to open. We almost were going to record the IHOP opening date information on our mall telephone voice mail system. The phone calls were just unbelievable," he said. "There's a lot of interest in IHOP."
Sam Handy, Jr., said that his uncles and father, Sam Handy, Sr., are owners of the operation. "I wish I was one of the owners," Sam, Jr., said, "but I'll be busy managing the operation."
Handy said the restaurant will be open seven days a week. But unlike many IHOPs, it will not be open 24 hours, at least at the start.
"We may open 24 hours a day," he said, "but we want to see how things go first."
The Handy's IHOP operation has provided a big boost to South Burlington's economy - the family just hired 109 men and women to work as kitchen and wait staffers; the new employees will work the restaurant's various shifts.
Check it Out: IHOP Restaurant in the University Mall, South Burlington, open seven days, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.