Brighton IHOP Gives Out Free Pancakes for Charity

IHOP gave out stacks of free buttermilk pancakes to customers Tuesday for charity. Shuqing Zhao reports.

By Chen Shen
BU News Service

With a goal of raising $3 million nationwide, IHOP restaurants gave out free buttermilk pancakes Tuesday in hopes of attracting customers’ donations to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, among other charities.

At the Brighton IHOP restaurant, a blue donation box was placed next to the cash register. Colorful balloons were attached on the box, where pictures of smiling children’s faces were printed. Yellow balloon stickers covered the walls.

“We expect customers to donate voluntarily,” IHOP general manager Ann Mullins said. “Our revenue won’t be counted as donations.”

IHOP has been following this tradition since 2006 in honor of National Pancake Day, March 4.

According to the restaurant’s website, the offer is open to all, but there is a limit to one free short stack of buttermilk pancakes per guest.

The Brighton IHOP restaurant is located at the intersection of Soldiers Field Road and North Beacon Street. There are several public schools in the neighborhood, and some students showed up for lunch.

“Can we just take the pancakes?” one student asked the cashier when he lined up at the IHOP entrance.

The cashier pointed at the blue box next to her.

“We are giving out the short stack pancake worth $4.99 on the menu, but if you want any toppings like the cream or strawberries, you have to pay for that,” IHOP employee Catherine Jomec said.

Jomec held a yellow balloon-shaped pamphlet while a customer approached the cash register to pay for his meal.

“You will be helping the Boston Children’s Hospital and kids suffering from illnesses,” Jomec said.

Every guest that donates received a $5-off coupon good for his or her next visit, Jomec said.

Apart from showing customers to their tables, Jomec’s job was gathering customers’ signatures on balloon pamphlets and sticking the paper balloons on to the wall, she said.

“There are definitely more people coming today because of the event,” Jomec said. “I would say there is about 60 percent more.”
A red sticker was attached to her shirt, which said, “Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals” printed in a yellow circle.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for 170 member children’s hospitals and medical research, according to their website. They provide 32 million treatments each year to children across the United States and Canada.

The organization has raised more than $5 billion since 1983, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon, according to IHOP’s website. The organization has reported that 100 percent of the proceeds will go to local charities. Boston Children’s Hospital will receive this year’s IHOP donations.

“Last year, we raised $3,000 in this particular restaurant,” General manager Ann Mullins said. “Our goal this year is $4,500, which is 15 percent higher.”

Mullins thanked customers who put change in the blue donation box and urged waitresses to hurry up cleaning tables.

Mullins said she couldn’t release the exact amount of donations for the day since it would be gathered and counted later. She also said many students accept the free buttermilk pancake meal without donating.

“You see, there are so many high school kids,” Mullins said. They don’t really donate.”

The event ran from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at every one of IHOP’s 1,500-plus locations, but was only valid for dine-in customers.