Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Business & Finance
  3. Small Business

The International House of Pancakes started as a small business dream in 1958

See also

Small Business owners Mr. and Mrs. B owned two International House of Pancakes franchises in Columbia, South Carolina in 1972. The Assembly Street International House of Pancakes was located directly across the street from the South Carolina State Capitol and a few doors down from Hammer and Bernstein Law Offices. The Devine Street International House of Pancakes was located at Devine Street and Fort Jackson Boulevard. Both locations were ideal locations for a 24 hour business that sold the best pancakes and hot coffee in town.

Although the franchise started in a suburb of Los Angeles in 1958, the Columbia locations served the same menu as in Los Angeles and created an environment of international pancake wonder. Alex English had to duck to get his 6’8 frame under the head beam of the entrance of the Devine Street location in 1972. He was not the only basketball star to eat the late night delights at IHOP.

For the high school and college students, who worked at the Columbia stores, there was always great food to eat while working to pay tuition and prepare for college. Bobby Sue Gibson, Molly Royum, Susan Dentzler, and Mrs. Gibson were only a few of the IHOP waitresses who worked very hard to make customers happy and to serve the many different varieties of pancakes that IHOP had to offer.

Harry Dent was a guest as well as other state and city leaders in South Carolina at the time. IHOP has been giving families great memories for over 54 years. The same spirit that inspired owners of the first franchise remains with IHOP today. JOllie’s Restaurant owner, Frank Coombs, remembered how he joined a friend who was going to IHOP to apply for a job. “I was just there to support my friend, but the manager hired me.” Coombs who now owns his own successful restaurant gives IHOP credit for his start.

Coombs not only took the job with IHOP; moreover, he remained with the company for a career and eventually became a shareholder of his own IHOP franchise. Having started out at age 17 as an employee at IHOP, Coombs became a stockholder in his own right. “I started working at a young age under my father’s guidance. I cut grass for my neighbors. A friend told me that the International House of Pancakes was hiring. I took the Metro bus to IHOP and applied for a job," Coombs remembered. The small business owner spent 33 years of his life serving customers at the International House of Pancakes.

“I think the key to a successful business is customer service. I used my 33 years of experience in serving customers at the International House of Pancakes to create a small business where customer service was my top priority. I go to each table to ask my customers, How is your steak, how are your eggs? I talk to my customers to let them know I want them to be happy. I want the food service to be excellent,” Coombs said.

The International House of Pancakes is America’s favorite pancake location. Now with over 3,000 restaurants nationwide the dream of Al and Jerry Lapin, the IHOP founders, proves that an American small business owner can build and inspire a nation if the dream or pancake is right.

For IHOP locations in the metro area go to