Medicine Hat is getting one, and Lethbridge has had one for three years.
Red Deer, however, will have to wait to get an IHOP Restaurant — at least for now.
Daniel del Olmo, president of International DineEquity Inc. — which owns the IHOP (International House Of Pancakes) brand — said Wednesday that Red Deer is a strong candidate for one of his company’s restaurants. But the city is not currently on its list of pending sites.
John Sikking, who has the IHOP franchise rights for Alberta, told the Edmonton Journal last week that he’d like to expand into Red Deer. Sikking already operates IHOPs in Lethbridge and Edmonton, and has two in Calgary. He’s planning to open another in each of Medicine Hat, Edmonton and Calgary.
Del Olmo confirmed that Red Deer is on the radar.
“We don’t have anything signed as of yet, or anything official to share in regards to Red Deer opportunities, (but) we very much believe Red Deer, along with Edmonton, along with Calgary are great development opportunities for us.”
Del Olmo added that Grand Prairie and Fort McMurray are also considered attractive sites by Glendale, Calif.-based International DineEquity.
“There are a number of key locations that make perfect sense for IHOP, and quite frankly for Applebee’s as well,” he said, referring to the other major restaurant brand that International DineEquity owns.
Applebee’s operated at Gaetz Avenue Crossing in Red Deer until last year. The restaurant chain now only has two locations in Alberta — both in Calgary.
Del Olmo said his company has closed restaurants that aren’t profitable. But it also tries to find a better location in which to operate in those communities, retaining the same franchisee, he added.
He’s optimistic more Applebee’s will open in Alberta.
“While we don’t have any specific plans to this day for Red Deer, I would expect, provided we get the right opportunity from a location standpoint, we would absolutely look at it jointly with our partners.”
International DineEquity set up an international division last December, with an eye to growing its IHOP and Applebee’s brands outside of the United States. Canada figures prominently in this initiative, said del Olmo, and a site developer who is responsible for this country only has been appointed.
“We believe that he, along with our franchise partners, will bring us many opportunities for the right site in the right location in the right market — including Red Deer.”
Founded in Los Angeles in 1958, International House of Pancakes began expanding via franchising two years later. It became know as IHOP in 1973.
As of June 30 this year there were 1,632 IHOP restaurants in the United States and other countries, including 23 in Canada.