Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: International House Of Pancakes, Southern California, 1965

Charles goes IHOP

International House Of Pancakes, Southern California, 1965

The parking lot is full. A silver metallic 1963 Chevrolet Impala is either coming or going. American monster cars surround a lonely little foreign car parked backwards next to of the two front doors. Compared to the others the foreign car is a toy. The Impala is the Honda Civic of its day.

The big maple-toned sign is piece of early American furniture waiting to happen. A delivery truck must’ve hit the little, hanging two-toned sandwich/steak sign that hangs crooked below it.

Stylistically the super-sized a-frame structure is Swiss Miss Modern. Or in Southern California terms: Wienerschnitzel meets Ranch House. It has the a-frame of the hot dog drive-thrus and used brick chimney, diamond pane windows and the colorized version of a wood shake roof of a typical tract home. The spectacular orange-white-turquoise color scheme is borrowed from on the grand daddy of the coffee shops, Howard Johnson’s. The a-frame buildings were cloned until 1979 when the last one in that style was built. Scale-wise they are monumental compared with other coffee shops of the day which are generally sleeker and far more space age.

The interior is maple to the max! Beneath the soaring beeamed celing is an early american wonderland of vinyl booths and maple-toned tables and chairs. Each tabletop has its own pot of hot coffee and and eight artificially flavored and colored syrups perfect for drowning your culturally-themed panckaes.

The world got a little smaller in 1958 when the first International House of Pancakes opened in Los Angeles. It is a coffee shop with a gimmick: glorifying pancakes into an around-the-world-taste treat sensation by ever-so-slightly altering the recipe. Top a short stack with Lingonberries and they’re Swedish; pineapple and they’re Hawaiian; add some shredded potoatoes and they’re German. Lighten up the batter and voila they’re French! Who knew pancakes were so worldly?

Here’s to Swiss Miss Modern, pancakes and YOU!

Charles Phoenix

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