It's been a while since I've been to IHOP.
I'm willing to guess on the order of years. I used to go to IHOP all the time. (Has IHOP been IHOP like forever? The JLo-ification of words has made McDonald's into Mickey-D's, which was always an unofficialy nickname, and Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC, but a ponderously pretentious name like International House of Pancakes just invites a shorter name like, well, IHOP).
I stopped going for several reasons. First, during the weekends, which is the time I'm most likely to go, it was a madhouse. There were too many people all the time. Second, service was often so-so. Third, it was often times expensive. You think of spending five bucks for pancakes, not ten bucks.
But in my vain effort to find some place to eat that was good, I ended up at IHOP (I had been hoping to make it to IKEA, which has cheap eating fare, but it wasn't open for twenty more minutes, and I wasn't willing to wait).
Surprisingly, the experience was rather pleasant. I was seated quickly, asked about a drink order (coffee, thank you), put in the order, got the order five minutes later (from a second person), and shortly thereafter, got a bill, and was ready to go. I think I was in and out of there in fifteen minutes, which is what I like to do when I'm by myself.
Speaking of which, restaurants need to learn that if you see a person dining by themselves, get their order in first (unless you're in the business of serving many people by themselves). Cut them in front of everybody else. If there were ten people ahead, put that one person up front.
That one person is there by themselves, and basically, they want to get food, and get out. People who come in groups see it as two things: hanging out with your friends and eating. You can do the first, while waiting for the second. You can see where I'm heading with this. A person sitting by himself or herself is a loser, and as such, they wish to eat and leave.
Restaurants, by and large, seem oblivious to this fact. Maybe the pricier places are more considerate, but your local run-of-the-mill restaurant should do it too. There's even an added benefit. If I want to eat and leave, then I'll do so far more quickly than the patrons who are there to yap, yap, yap, and you'll get a table opened up more quickly so you can seat other patrons that want to blah, blah, blah.
In any case, that wasn't the problem today. I was seated quickly, had my order, my food, and everything. Heck, I even had two kinds of hot sauces (the standard McIlhenny Co. Tabasco sauce---does anyone even know the companies name? Goodness! And the Cholula hot sauce, which is a bit sweeter and less tangy than the tabasco) offered. People were friendly.
Yes, it was still a madhouse. But, I think they dropped the prices. I seem to recall prices closer to ten bucks. This was $7. Had I paid attention to the ads on the table, I could have found pumpkin pancakes for $5. But oh well.
The only other problem, which isn't so much IHOP's fault, as restaurants in general, is that portions are just way too large in American restaurants. This is why we, as a country, are so fat (that, and the need to have fried foods everywhere). My order was Chicken Fried Streak with gravy, three pancakes, and three eggs.
Really, two smaller pancakes (the pancakes weren't that large, so that was good) and maybe an egg or so (the ones I got were a bit undercooked, so I was a bit underwhelmed).
Still, on the whole, it was a more positive experience than I had hoped.
I'd like to find a breakfast buffet. I remember a friend took me to one ages ago, but I neither recall the name, nor the place. It wasn't that great, but it had a pleasant atmosphere, and the buffet meant you didn't have to wait.
Now, I feel, as a colleague likes to say, loathesome. Ate too much food, and all I'm thinking about is passing out.
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