IHOP Employee Asks Group of Black Teens to Pay Upfront. Company Shuts Down Location


One International House of Pancakes is under fire for how it treated a group of teenagers.

The IHOP in Auburn, Maine will shut down temporarily for staff training after an employee asked a group of teenagers to pay for their meal upfront.

The situation came to the attention of management and the media after a witness posted about the event.

According to his Facebook post, Avery Gagne was dining at IHOP with his parents when the group of “respectful” African American teens sat across the restaurant from them.

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“I heard an employee tell the table that they were going to need to pay upfront and that it was ‘a new generation thing.’

“I kept thinking to myself that I have been to many restaurants with my teenage friends and have never had to pay upfront?”

According to his recount, Gagne and his parents went over to investigate the situation and demanded an explanation from the employee.

The woman told them that the restaurant has had many young customers skip out on their bill and she wasn’t requesting the payment from this group “because of their color.”

“The fact that she stated ‘it’s not because of their color’ proves it all,” Gagne wrote. “The worst thing about all of this is that one of the teens looked at my mom and I and stated ‘it’s okay.’

“No. It’s not okay. This is NOT okay. I will not stand for this.”

The manager, Melvin Escobar said that he has spoken with the server about the incident.

“This is the first time it happened, and that will be the last time,” he said, adding that the restaurant has had problems with teenagers walking out without paying and that was what the waitress was concerned about.

“We don’t discriminate (against) people for what they are or who they are.”

The management also posted an apology on Facebook following the incident.

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“We apologize sincerely on behalf of our waitstaffs actions. A meeting has taken place with all of our staff members. Everyone has been made aware of these inexcusable actions and reminded how we handle matters correctly in the future,” they wrote. “We have rectified the situation and can guarantee this is not what we condone to go on within our restaurant.

“Please spare our credibility, as this situation is not a reflection of the service we strive to deliver. Auburn IHOP pride ourselves on providing a happy, enjoyable, and memorable dining experience.”

IHOP’s corporate president also sent in a public apology through a spokesperson.

“IHOP and our franchisees have zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type. The franchisee of this location is working to contact the affected guests directly to apologize for this incident and are taking appropriate actions in line with their HR policies,” Darren Rebelez said.

“For 60 years, IHOP and our franchisees have strived to create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests, and this isolated incident is not reflective of that ongoing commitment.”

We are glad to see IHOP is retraining its employees and rectifying the situation.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith