I know a lot of people rag on chain restaurants. In the “support your local business,” spirit of things, I’m totally on board and do a lot to support that. And, frankly, when you’re looking for a personal touch, you can’t beat the mom and pop store. So when they built the local International House of Pancakes near my house, I was disappointed a bit. I had hoped for a local diner or restaurant, something with local flair and would go into making our local economy that much better.

In truth, in the years it has been there (of how many, I’m not exactly certain), we have never patronized it. Beyond the fact that it was a chain restaurant, but also because it was so close to home that it didn’t feel like anything special to go over there. However, when some guests came to town, we decided that for our purposes, which were to get a large filling breakfast quickly and at a reasonable price, we gave it a go.

I had never been to an IHOP before. In my town growing up, the local chain was Denny’s. When we went in to be seated, the lobby was pretty full. That’s not always a bad sign. I gave our name to the manager who was standing at the host’s stand, and he said it would be only five to ten minutes to be seated. We asked to see a few menus while we waited, which he obliged. He asked if we were in a hurry, which we weren’t, but I said that it was my first time at the IHOP, and wanted to check out what my options were.

Within a few minutes we were seated, and I ordered some kind of tropical drink type soda, a mixture of lemonade, lemon lime soda and mango syrup that was truly delicious. I have an affinity for homemade chocolate chip pancakes, so seeing them on the menu had me intrigued. Fortunately, you can order breakfast all day, so I got a combination with scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, wheat toast and of course, the chocolate chip pancakes. The waitress gave me the option to order buttermilk or chocolate batter for them, so I went with chocolate.

The food was as expected, prepared correctly, except the bacon which I prefer a little crispier. The pancakes were awesome and truly worth the trip. Of course, they don’t measure up to the one’s you make yourself, but there are certain trade offs for getting someone else to make them for you.

The manager came by twice to check our order and spent a few minutes chit-chatting about the festival we were attending. It was nice to have that kind of personalized service, and it reminded us that chain restaurants are sometimes the way to go. There was definitely an above and beyond attitude and we felt genuinely welcome. I will definitely be going back, and considering that it’s literally around the corner from our development, it will probably be with regularity.