One of Abbotsford’s most loved and longest running breakfast establishments will not be coming back when things return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.
For nearly 33 years, the International House of Pancakes has served over four million guests inside its unique stand-alone building on South Fraser Way.
But pancake production at the restaurant shut down in March, the buttermilk is now bare and the final drop of syrup has oozed out of the bottle.
IHOP owner/operator James Squire said that, due to an unclear future with the landlord of the property, 2020 was set to be the final year of operation for the Abbotsford location. However, the coronavirus outbreak sped up that process and it will unfortunately not give him the chance to say farewell and thank you to the many customers who frequented his restaurant.
The original plans were to close on April 30, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed that ahead to March 20.
Shirley Squire, James’ mother, was the original owner/operator back in 1987 and James said it was an incredible accomplishment for a single mother to turn the restaurant into a success.
“My mom started this business when I was 14,” he said. “She was a single mother who worked for IHOP and had an opportunity come her way. Miraculously she came up with the money, borrowing a lot of money, to start her dream. And me and my sister just grew up in it and around it for the last 33 years.”
James worked in the kitchen throughout his high school years, began managing after graduation and then partnered with his mom in 1997. The pair then opened a second location in Chilliwack on Yale Road in 2013. That location will remain open when dining in restaurants returns.
James said the Abbotsford IHOP was successful financially and there is the possibility of a new location opening. His family owns the regional rights for Abbotsford.
He added that the thing he will miss the most is the customers and his employees, many of whom have been working at the establishment for many years.
“I think the biggest memory Shirley and I will take from our time here would be all the great employees we had over the 33 years,” he said. “The day we closed we still had so many employees that had been with us for so many years in a business notorious for staff turnover.”
James pointed out some of his longest serving workers include back- of-house employees Rajwinder Soos (25 years), Barbara Dorantes (20 years), Satpal Randhawa (27), Rani Tak (15), Jaspreet Johal (eight) and Tricia Panylyk (10) and front-of-house employees Sandy Bain (27 ), Susan Lounsbury (24), Vivian Greig (18) and Leila Meyers (15).
“Shirley and I would like to thank all the amazing employees that we have had the pleasure of working with over the years.” James said. “Thank you for your loyalty and all of your hard work. You will all be missed dearly. On behalf of Shirley and I, we would like to thank all of our guests for helping to make our business such a success. It was a pleasure serving each and every one of you and we look forward to serving you in the future at our Chilliwack location.”