Some good news is wafting into Amherst for diehard breakfast lovers: International House of Pancakes Corp. has announced plans to open its first restaurant in Western New York.
The national chain, widely known for its 16 kinds of pancakes, is launching a campaign to move into the Buffalo area. Until now, the closest IHOP was in Syracuse.
"We're thrilled," said IHOP spokesman Patrick Lenow. "We are actively looking in the Buffalo market. Buffalo's always been on the road map, and now the time is right."
Lenow confirmed Friday that IHOP, a company based in Glendale, Calif., plans to open a restaurant at 4003 Maple Road, where the former Chi Chi's Mexican restaurant now stands vacant. That building will be torn down, and a new 5,000-square-foot restaurant with a capacity to seat 176 customers will be constructed, according to Gary Black, assistant planning director in Amherst.
IHOP plans to start construction in June and open in October, Lenow said. The site plan for the Maple Road site comes before the Amherst Planning Board Thursday for approval.
The building, he said, will vary somewhat from the traditional IHOP design.
"This won't be blue A-frame," Lenow said. "It will be contemporary but still incorporating the trademark blue color, either in awnings or a tower."
IHOP is still looking for a local franchiser to run the restaurant, he said. The local franchise owner will determine whether the restaurant will be open around the clock or just during more standard operating hours.
The chain also is eyeing a site in Clarence, Lenow said. But the company has not yet closed the deal on the land, so he declined to identify the exact location.
And a restaurant in Irondequoit, outside of Rochester, also is on IHOP's radar screen. That sort of regional approach to marketing has been typical for IHOP in the last few years, Lenow said.
"We look to come into a market with strength so it makes sense to use television advertising," he said.
Currently, IHOP operates 946 restaurants in 40 states, offering a varied breakfast menu as well as full lunches and dinners.