Employees, including the franchise's owner Manish Patel, say they learned of the decision last Monday when a “Site Plan Approval” sign on the property notified them of the deal their landlord made with Chase. On Saturday, they protested outside the restaurant as guests ate breakfast inside. The news, they say, came with little notice and threatens the livelihood of the restaurant's employees, many of whom are single mothers.
“We didn’t know until March, when [the city] put the ‘Approved Site’ sign up. That’s how we found out,” says Patel, the IHOP location's owner and manager. “They have to give me 60 days before I close. They haven’t yet. They’re still collecting rent right now.”
The restaurant's landlord, RPT Realty (formerly RAMCO Properties Trust), owns the rest of the West Broward Shopping Center where the IHOP is located.
The deal between the landlord and Chase had been in the works for the last six to nine months, according to Mayor Lynn Stoner's comments during last week's city council meeting.
Mayor Stoner recommended that Chase’s representatives provide some form of outreach to IHOP employees to assist with re-employment after the franchise's closing, stating that the deal was “disrespectful,” “bad business,” and “not a good start in the city.”
The bank is expected to go up by the end of the year and will be across the street from a TD Bank.
Patel has owned the IHOP since 2009, five years after the franchise opened in Plantation. He says he has funneled at least $900,000 into the establishment. RPT Realty has offered him another location in the plaza, but according to Patel, IHOP won’t approve the relocation.
“When we sign, we give them everything. So once this place closes, I cannot open an IHOP anywhere else,” he says. “I have talked directly [with IHOP] and given them everything from the city and the landlord, and they said that they cannot help... I even tried to talk to the CEO of the company to explain this issue, but they said, 'If you relocate, the contract is terminated.' So I’m stuck on both sides. It’s sad for all the people. They’re thinking 35 employees. It’s not just 35. It’s families. Most of the employees we have are single moms. So we have no clue what they’re going to do.”
Some employees, like Dorothy Mosley, who is known by employees and frequent patrons as “the Grandma of IHOP,” has been with the franchise since it opened a decade-and-a-half ago. Like many other employees, she's worked at the restaurant alongside her children and grandchildren and has seen her regular customers' families expand over the years.
“I still haven’t processed it. This is the first time it hit me,” she says. “There are regulars that look for me and one of the chefs. If we ain’t here, they will leave. We’re a family. This is my house. This is all I know.”
While the protest was a singular event, organizer Lenny Grissette, Moseley’s son, hopes that by engaging with patrons and the city they will bring awareness to their situation, though there isn’t much they can do right now but wait.
The IHOP will remain in operation until they get their eviction notice.