No guns, just pancakes at Jefferson Avenue IHOP
Midnight hours, rowdy patrons cause restaurant to introduce security team
I can't decide if the sign at the East Jefferson Avenue IHOP is reassuring, but there's no question it's a sign of the times.
It's bolted to a wall outside the front door. "THIS IHOP IS A PISTOL FREE ZONE," it declares, "WITH THE EXCEPTION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT." Then it politely adds, "THANK YOU."
Personally, I have never felt the need to tote a Smith & Wesson to a place that serves me Bacon & Eggs. And call me naïve, but it's never occurred to me that my fellow diners might have revolvers tucked in the waistbands of their pants.
There's apparently a difference, though, between my dining experience and the IHOP's retail experience. So keep your junk in the trunk, customers, and would you like those hash browns extra-crispy?
"Here's the thing," says Raymond Jefferson, one of the managers at Detroit's only International House of Pancakes. He's being polite, but what he really means is, "Here's the reality, you poor, sheltered suburbanite."
"We run a midnight shift over the weekend," he continues -- from 6 a.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Sunday, the doors stay open -- and at 4 a.m., the customers did not just come from church.
Once the bars close, "you get all kinds of people in here," Jefferson says. "When you have drunk people, things can happen. The easiest way to handle it is to head it off at the pass."
On the overnight shifts Friday and Saturday, a former cop leads a security team that wields metal-detecting wands. At a tonier address, customers might be spared the few seconds of inconvenience, but in the wee hours in the city, it's the price you pay for food that doesn't spin out from behind Plexiglas.
You want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. "I tell people, 'If you're complaining, that means you've got something to hide,' " Jefferson says.
The restaurant sits at 2701 E. Jefferson Ave., just east of Chene. It's the same IHOP that Anita Baker's ex-husband, Walter Bridgforth Jr., tore down a historic building to put up.
He later sold it, which means I'll go there now, and I can tell you I've never found a bad meal or an unfriendly employee on the premises.
I typically show up for lunch, when the checkpoint at the door is not in force. I might have to stop back in the wee hours, though, just to hear some hard case with a Glock in his glove box say, "Yes, please, I'd like the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n Fruity."