Families enjoy free ‘Breakfast For Dinner’ at annual IHOP Newark charity event
Published December 27, 2018 | Manny Faces
International House of Pancakes, known the country over as IHOP, had a marketing tagline back in the early 2000s: “Come hungry. Leave happy.”
During the dreary, cold winter months, however, particularly in the hectic, financially draining run up to the holidays, many families end up hungrier, and less happy, than they should be.
To help some of those families, and offer a neighborly display of holiday cheer to others, IHOP Newark hosted a free “Breakfast For Dinner” holiday event, offering hundreds of area residents a veritable feast of breakfast delicacies.
For five years, owner Adenah Bayoh has been running the “Breakfast for Dinner” event, first at her IHOP Irvington location, then expanding to the other locations she owns in Paterson and Newark. Across all her restaurants, Bayoh estimates that the charitable program has served more than 750 families throughout the years.
Indeed, on this brisk, cloudy Wednesday night in December, families were welcomed and served well. A lavish buffet spread sprawled across a section of the restaurant, with aluminum trays stacked with pancakes, French toast, eggs, hash browns and both turkey and pork variants of bacon and sausage, and an assortment of beverages, while restaurant staff and volunteers cheerily handled serving duties, heaping food onto the awaiting plates of dozens of local residents.
While individuals and couples took advantage of the restaurant’s generosity, families represented most of those attending, with children expressing delight at the opportunity to enjoy breakfast goodies at dinnertime. “BOTH!” one young boy squealed excitedly when asked his choice between bacon or sausage. The smiling server happily obliged as others helped keep the sterno-heated trays filled, calling out when items were running low.
“We’re going to need more hash browns!” one staffer called out.
“We need more syrup — Old-fashioned,” chimed in another.
This clearly wasn’t IHOP Newark’s first holiday rodeo, as the finely choreographed culinary ballet easily kept up with the steady flow of guests. Employees and volunteers didn’t miss a beat, delivering welcoming words and banter as they served plates and drinks to young and old alike.
“Hello! What can I get for you?”
“Here you are, enjoy your meal!”
That sort of interaction characterized what the night was all about. While those receiving free food were certainly gracious and appreciative, the feelings clearly went both ways. Marisol, an IHOP employee helping serve meals, thanked each recipient “for coming out,” and made sure to wish everyone “happy holidays” as they made their way down the buffet.
At one point, staffers and a few guests broke into a spontaneous rendition of “Feliz Navidad,” all helping keep the atmosphere festive and jovial throughout the night.
While these altruistic efforts certainly help IHOP Newark’s reputation, Bayoh is not in it solely for the kudos. She makes it clear that engaging with the community through her ventures is a priority. “It it is my privilege to be able to give back to the communities that have treated me so well and honored me with their loyalty,” she said, emphasizing the importance of respecting and cultivating that relationship. “I want these families to know that they are appreciated and valued.”
Those sentiments, and a genuine feeling of community, generosity, and holiday spirit was indeed present throughout the restaurant as individuals and families truly seemed to appreciate the opportunity to sit down for a complimentary breakfast — for dinner — and leave happy.