Story by Madalyn Watson | Staff Writer, Video by Julia Lawrenz | Broadcast Reporter
The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) on South 4th St. at the edge of Baylor’s campus will serve its last stack of pancakes by 2 p.m. this Thursday.
General manager Victor Melant, said IHOP’s contract is going to expire this May and business has been slow compared to other locations.
“Back in the day, I would come in here late at night to eat, and this place would be packed,” Melant said.
All of the staff members have the option of moving to other IHOP locations after the location closes. Mellant said he will be moving to the Bellmead location.
Baylor has owned the lot as well as the green space around it since 2002.
Karl “Rock” McNair Jr., assistant vice president of real estate operations and campus services, said the green space surrounding the IHOP used host a strip mall and several other retail locations.
“The whole area has always been historically referred to as Ivy Square,” McNair said.
In the past, the Ivy Square has been home to a movie theater, apartments, a music store, several restaurants and, most recently, a Best Western. Many of which have been owned and leased out by Baylor.
“Baylor owns the building. We just don’t own the restaurant and the franchise,” McNair said.
Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president of media and public relations, said that the green space on the opposite side of IHOP and beside University Parks Drive and I-35 will be the future Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center.
“Baylor is fortunate to be located along I-35, which provides great visibility to the university. However, Baylor has not had a visible front door to the university. We have completely outgrown the Wiethorn Visitors Center,” Fogleman said.
Baylor expects that there will be strategic development around the IHOP location once it is vacant.
“IHOP has been a great neighbor of Baylor, our students, faculty, staff and alumni for many years, and we all have many fond memories of the restaurant,” Fogleman said.
Sadonna Cody, Baylor alumna class of 1992, said the closing of the IHOP caused her to reminisce about her years at Baylor.
“When you’re coming off the highway from the south, [the IHOP] is one of the first things you see,” Cody said.
Cody shared some of her fond memories of studying at the IHOP late at night. She said it fostered a place to not only study but hang out with her friends.
“You could take up an entire booth, and they would bring you a pot of coffee,” Cody said. “You could stay there for hours and hours, all night long if you wanted, just drinking coffee and studying.”
Several current students, like Temecula, Calif., sophomore Haley Stiles and Oak Cliff sophomore Miranda Wood, said they enjoy the community of Baylor students, Waco residents and IHOP staff members that this location offered. Stiles and Wood have visited iHop regularly since they first moved into North Russell Residence Hall their freshman year.
“We made friends with one of the waitresses, who was so nice. She would sit down in the booth and talk with us,” Stiles said.
Stiles said that when she dined at the IHOP, it was always a safe haven for memories to be made and a good experience to be had with other Baylor students but also local Waco residents.
“Getting beyond yourself and forming relationships with other Wacoans is really valuable, and I think every student should take the opportunity to do that,” Stiles said.
Similar to Cody’s experience, Wood would camp out at the IHOP and order bottomless coffee when she had to stay up late to write essays. When their friend group discovered that the IHOP would be closing, Stiles said that they were all sad, and she even called the location to verify the news.
“[Our friend group had planned on] reunions at IHOP, like 10 years down the road. We were going to get together, reminisce about the old times, eat breakfast food and talk about Baylor,” Wood said.
Both Wood and Stiles are sad for future students living on campus, especially North Russell residents, who will not have an off-campus breakfast restaurant within walking distance.
“The only other place I can think of within walking distance is Subway, and you don’t want to sit down and hang out in a gas station, eating Subway,” Wood said.
To still enjoy a stack of classic IHOP pancakes, visit the Bellmead or Jack Kultgen Expressway IHOP locations that are located within five miles of Baylor’s campus.