Marietta IHOP still in the works

Project about 50 percent completed

Photo Provided This photo taken by the IHOP project manager show the progress of the restaurant which is set to open in early November.

MARIETTA — Despite a small snag in the construction timeline, plans for an IHOP restaurant in Marietta are still moving forward and officials say pancakes are on the way as soon as November.

“We’re very excited for this restaurant, this will be our first franchise in Ohio,” said Tommy Tsitouris, vice president of operations for Sharp Holding Inc., a company based in Virginia with restaurants in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Kentucky.

The good news comes on the heels of an announcement early last month by Dine Equity, the parent company of IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants, that it would be closing as many as 135 Applebee’s restaurants and 25 IHOP restaurants due to a decline in second quarter fiscal results. Sales had declined 6.2 percent for Applebee’s and 2.6 percent at IHOP. Many independently-owned franchises were safe from the closure, including those owned and operated by Sharp.

“A lot of those that are closing are old locations or the leases have been lost,” offered Tsitouris, who said that, while they are not affiliated with Applebee’s, the fact that the Marietta location has not closed means it is probably safe.

Mike Gulliver, who manages First Colony Center development for owner Larry Lang, said that he didn’t have any details about why the project stalled but that it appears to be about 50 percent completed.

“They’re under roof now; they’ve put a lot of money into the land and construction and I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t open,” he said.

Tsitouris explained that a family health matter has caused project superintendent Danny Nickel to take a leave of absence for the time being. But work is ongoing.

“We have been delayed a couple weeks because the superintendent on the project (who is not local), has some personal family issues. But the project is going to pick back up very soon and I promise we will be open by November,” he said.

The location is on Crooked Run Lane next to Wings Etc. Gulliver said development of the area, including infrastructure, is ongoing as development owner Lang works to make the whole area more fluid and appealing to businesses.

Tsitouris said the restaurant will employ 160 people and hiring and training has already begun.

Rodney Ahart is in place as general manager and has experience with Outback and Ruby Tuesdays restaurants. He has worked for Sharp Holding Inc. for several years.

“I’ve been traveling but I’m from Parkersburg so I’m excited to come home,” he said. “If you look (online) at the map of our locations, there kind of is a big void in that area. It’s a good location, high traffic and there’s just lots of excitement in the community.”

Along with providing a new food choice and employing local workers, Tsitouris said the building itself will be unique and the decision to choose Marietta was easy.

“The location will have a coffee bar and a fireplace, it is our newest designed restaurant,” he said. “The choice was between Marietta and Parkersburg and when I toured the area, the land, the community, it all played a big part in the decision.”