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.
Tim Griffin has come a long way from washing dishes. That first job gave set him on a path into the restaurant industry, which led to stints in almost every position including bartender, server, manager, and dish taster for visiting monarchs. He first used his experience to launch a catering company, and then kept evolving and founded his own restaurant, J.Bean's Gathering Place. Today, Tim—along with his wife Ibby and head chef Blair Johnson—welcome guests with a creative menu of dishes ranging from crab-rangoon dip to fish tacos. The two-level dining room evokes a warm, welcoming atmosphere with an abundance of hardwood furnishings and trim anchored by a stone fireplace. The establishment also often hosts special events, such as occasional live music on the patio.
From its humble beginnings in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938, Dairy Queen has grown from a delicious experiment in soft-serve ice cream to a household name with more than 5,900 restaurants around the world. The shop's signature frozen delights are built upon a frosty foundation of creamy chocolate or vanilla soft serve, which swirls idyllically into cones, cups, overturned top hats, sundaes, Peanut Buster parfaits, and the chain's iconic Blizzard treats, blended with crumbled candy and other mix-ins. Ice-cream cakes cleverly conceal a surprise filling of fudge and chocolate crunch between layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, providing sweet, sliceable sustenance for birthday parties and other special occasions.
Fruit rules the roost on the other side of the slushy emporium, where Orange Julius blends its signature frothy drinks crafted from fruit juice, ice, and a "magic? powdered sweetener that explains why they disappear from most customers? cups minutes after the first delicious sip. Real fruit pur?e forms the basis for the shop's smoothies, which also come in diet-friendly light versions that boast 150 calories or fewer.
If a dance club isn't the first place you think of to find a great fried chicken dinner, then you clearly haven't been to Chico's Chicken yet. Tucked away inside Club Afrobeat, Chico's gives taste buds something to dance and sing about with a menu centered around home-style chicken dinners and rib-sticking sides such as mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and red beans with rice. But that's only the beginning of what the restaurant has to offer?other hearty eats include cheeseburgers, mozzarella sticks, cheesesteaks, and fried fish.
Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
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.