The IHOP restaurant chain will close a Maine franchise Thursday for a day of staff retraining after a waitress there asked a group of black teenagers to pay for their meals upfront, the company said.
“IHOP and our franchisees have zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type,” company president Darren Rebelez said in a statement.
“The franchisee of this location is working to contact the affected guests directly to apologize for this incident and are taking appropriate disciplinary actions in line with their HR policies.”
Melvin Escobar, who manages the Auburn, Maine, location, said it has encountered teenagers in the past who ate without paying for their meals, The Associated Press reported.
But that’s no excuse for asking anyone to pay first, Escobar told the AP, adding “this is the first time it happened, and that will be the last time.”
Rebelez, the IHOP president, echoed that sentiment, saying in his statement, “this isolated incident is not reflective of that ongoing commitment” to “create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests.”
California-based IHOP, whose parent company, Dine Brands Global, also franchises Applebees’s restaurants, started in the Los Angeles suburbs 60 years ago as the International House of Pancakes.