The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
While Butterfly Kisses Baking's staff avidly serves its local customers by decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, the people they most proudly cater to are military troops. The shop allocates 20% of its profits to providing care packages for servicemen and women abroad. They build those funds by enticing customers with the sweetness packed into their various treats, which include peppermint-bark cupcakes, lemon sugar cookies, and cake pops themed after the flavors of cereal, cookies, and candy bars. Bakers are on hand to help clients create custom desserts including themed cakes that might light up a child’s face on his birthday or fondant scenes so real you’d consider buying a time share there.
Denise Ward grew up nourished by soul food that her mother skillfully prepared. After learning to prepare the same recipes herself, she dreamed of sharing them with other people. That’s why she and her husband, Perry, opened a soul food café in 1985, naming it Niecies Restaurant. In 2006, they expanded to a second location.
In the early hours, cooks grill pork chops for breakfast sandwiches and prepare signature plates such as the Sunrise Breakfast, which The Pitch asserts, “may be the best way to start any morning.” Later in the day, plates of fried catfish and barbecue brisket share table space with bowls of beef stew more comforting to stomachs than teddy bears eaten whole. Homespun desserts such as peach cobbler sweeten palates.
The food gets served in a comfy diner-style setting. Thickly padded booths line two long rows of front windows, and diner stools prop up guests at the counter—in case they want to reenact scenes from their favorite road-trip movie, such as Ben-Hur. Floral wallpaper hangs cozily over wood-trim wainscoting, and plates of pancakes can be seen on the shelf between the kitchen and the dining area for that fleeting instant before servers whisk them off to tables.
A circular driveway leads to the towering white columns that frame the entrance of Van Noy Mansion, built in the early 20th century for a wealthy railroad family. Two and a half acres of 100-year-old oak trees, manicured shrubs, and verdant landscape surround the estate, and guests are invited to take photos and explore the grounds. General manager James Michael summarizes the mansion's beauty by saying, "You have to see it to believe it. When people walk in for the first time, their jaws drop."
Original woodwork lines the mansion's interior, which is ornamented by stained-glass windows and a series of original murals portraying a courtship. A dramatic wooden rotunda with a second-level landing gives guests space to snap photos or drop buckets of molasses and feathers on late arrivals. Stepping out on the second-story balcony, guests can occasionally hear faint elephant trumpets from the neighboring zoo intermingled with real trumpets carried on the breeze from the nearby Starlight Theatre. The historic 5,000-square-foot mansion plays host to up to 1,000 guests for indoor and outdoor weddings receptions, holiday parties, and charitable events, with food services available from a list of preferred caterers.
Rachel Johnson loves opening her oven to see sweet cupcakes rising up from their pan, but she knows not everyone has the time or the inclination to make that happen on their own. That's why, as owner of Dainty Cakes, she's made it her mission to deliver the freshest homemade treats directly to people's doorsteps. Upon delivery, clients unfurl the wrapper of a peach-cobbler or german-chocolate cupcake or bite into the soft buttercream of sweet strawberry.
Smokehouse Bar-B-Que’s dinner and lunch menus satisfy cravings across the protein spectrum with a selection of hickory-smoked beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. High-quality cuts mingle between the Junior Smokehouse’s sesame-seed buns ($8.45), which grant diners a choice of two savories such as beef brisket, polish sausage, or time-traveling triceratops shank. The Monterey chicken's 8-ounce grilled breast nestles in a corn-dust bun alongside its eponymous cheese, ham, bacon, and dijon-mustard bedmates ($9.25), and chefs catapult a 16-ounce whole catfish through a Cajun-sauce and lemon-butter waterfall before bringing it in to land gently next to a house salad and choice of side ($14.95). Also flanked by a patron-preferred side dish, the Kansas City Strip rolls a 12-ounce certified Angus beef steak down sizzling hickory logs and into eagerly awaiting mouths ($23.95).