Evidently not the Wheaton Urban District, who organized last weekend’s World of Montgomery Festival (about which, I have to admit, I heard nothing until now and remain completely ignorant) and did not invite IHOP, according to yesterday’s interesting, well-balanced Wheaton Patch article. Lots of restaurants didn’t participate, so I don’t think the fact that IHOP wasn’t invited necessarily means much, but IHOP franchise owner William Moore was probably right when he suggested the committee was focused on “independent mom-and-pops” — though I think even more so they focused on multiethnic restaurants, of which there are so many excellent examples in MoCo, and in Wheaton specifically. IHOP serves a purpose, but is not the kind of exciting, interesting cuisine I enjoy encountering at food festivals.
Moore is right to point out that IHOP is locally-owned (and of course also employs lots of locals); just because they are part of a chain doesn’t mean they aren’t local. I, too, am guilty of ignoring them in favor of various other Wheaton restaurants, though that’s mostly just because I’m just not an IHOP eater. I don’t eat at many big chains in general, but lots of people do, and IHOP is one of the few major non-fast-food chains currently in Wheaton. I think many of us appreciately Wheaton’s current balance in favor of, but not exclusive to, smaller ethnic eateries — we don’t want IHOPs (or, heaven forfend, Red Lobsters) on every corner — but there’s nothing wrong with an IHOP here or there, it’s another legitimate option for those who dig pancakes at all hours and that sort of thing.