Hearing that the long-standing WeHo International House of Pancakes has closed gave me a sad feeling, not because I dine there frequently but because I have happy memories of discovering their delectable dishes decades ago. Where else could you find a plate of pancakes adorned by all kinds of fruity toppings, sugary syrup and whipped cream at any hour of the day or night?
Back in the day, IHOP was one of my go-to spots for meeting with friends for lunch or after a concert where I tried several of the chain’s menu choices before settling on a couple of favorites. These days they try to be all things to all diners, but back then, in the early 70s, IHOP was all pancakes and other breakfast-type goodies, all the time.
One of my faves was Banana Nut Pancakes, which consisted of several large pancakes with sliced bananas and chopped pecans topped by banana flavored syrup. Alas, this delicious treat has been replaced by a menu item named Banana Crepes with Nutella described as “4 crepes topped with nutella® the original hazelnut spread & freshly sliced bananas.” Sounds healthier but not nearly as much fun.
Whatever you ordered, you had an impressive selection of specialty syrups brought to your table in a metal rack. Any fruit you could think of, IHOP had a syrup flavored like it. Now I suspect you could duplicate any of these with generic pancake syrup and a bottle of extract. As I recall, whipped cream was available as a topper on most pancake dishes but I have an aversion to the stuff due to overexposure to Reddi-Whip as a child.
My all-time IHOP favorite was French Pancakes, a concoction of small thin pancakes topped by orange syrup and marmalade with a dusting of powdered sugar. Fortunately for those of us who became addicted to this super sweet dish, it’s pretty easy to duplicate with pancake mix, Smuckers orange marmalade and powdered sugar.
The first International House of Pancakes restaurant opened in Burbank in 1958 and the one at the one at 8461Santa Monica Blvd. opened sometime in the 1960s. I didn’t find an official opening date but I remember that when I arrived in WeHo in 1971 it was already there, meaning it’s older than most of the people who live here.
In 2018 IHOP made an ill-advised attempt to draw attention to its new line of Ultimate Steakburgers by temporarily changing its name to International House of Burgers. This move was intended to draw attention to the chain’s non-breakfast offerings. A recent addition to the IHOP menu was plant-based burgers from Impossible Foods because all potential diners are craving another meatless burger.
The current IHOP menu includes calorie counts for every item and gluten-free choices which kinda takes the fun out of dining at a joint famous for decadent stacks of sweet, gooey pancakes. I’m sure that the current generation of clubgoers have other spots when they crave a late-night sugar fix.