SIOUX FALLS, SD—Managers of an area International House of Pancakes discovered 95 comment cards nailed to its front door Sunday, which were later identified as the work of local resident Ronald Lyman, a 53-year-old contractor and onetime regular customer who is calling for wide-scale reform of the venerable chain.
"IHOP has grown weak on powdered sugar and fruity garnishes, forsaking the righteousness of its original rib-sticking mission," said Lyman, who nailed his 95 comments to the door shortly before the morning brunch rush, when they would receive maximum exposure. "This house is no longer a house of pancakes—it is a house of lies."
Lyman's 95 cards assail IHOP for what he perceives to be an "unholy alliance" of the sweet and the savory, a dangerously narrowing blueberry-to-batter ratio, hard-to-open butter packets, and an increasingly tall short stack. Fifteen cards alone attack the excessive breadth of syrup selection.
"IHOP is about pancakes, not syrups," card 41 reads. "No pancake can exist drowned in a pool of lingonberry. No man who comes hungry can leave happy on artificial orange-flavored goo."
Lyman said that his pancake fundamentalism is based on "the trinity of griddle-fried batter, butter, and maple syrup, as directed by our breakfast elders more than two score years ago." His beliefs were forged by years of increasing dissatisfaction with the "internationalist" influence within IHOP, which he said stresses flavor over substance.
"The course of my life changed last week when a waitress dropped a tray and I was struck with hot coffee," Lyman said. "As I wiped my eyes and opened them, suddenly I became aware of the full extent of the corruption. Sweet crepes mingling with egg runoff. The sickening decadence of Belgian waffles. A waitstaff more concerned with lining their pockets with tips than with dedicating their lives to service. I stormed from the wicked place without settling my bill, finally realizing what I must do: devote my life to bringing down the House of Pancakes. To bring it down, then build it anew in righteousness and customer satisfaction."
IHOP manager Dennis Ryskowski said that he has tried to read some of Lyman's comments during his breaks, but has so far only made it to card 26, "On the Blankets of Pigs."
"We welcome all customer suggestions and feedback," Ryskowski said. "That's why we provide the comment cards. I do, however, wish Mr. Lyman had simply placed his in the box by the host station instead."
Several customers who had come to the restaurant after bars closed Sunday night agreed with Lyman's stand, saying they, too, often feel disconnected from the IHOP experience.
"I really like what he has to say about returning to the basics," customer Kelly Grabler said. "Sometimes you just want a nice fat stack of pancakes, but you end up overwhelmed by the choices. Lots of the stuff isn't even breakfast. An IHOP meal should be a straightforward relationship between an individual and some pancakes."
Card 63 perhaps most eloquently summarizes Lyman's condemnatory stance.
"These steep and serene blue roofs, which arc to the heavens, in truth house corrupt souls who once sought succor in a simple pancake, but have now succumbed to the temptation of caramel cheesecakes and Caesar salads," Lyman wrote. "Only by returning to its hearty breakfast roots can IHOP save itself and its customers."
Lyman suggested that, should his recommended changes not be instituted, he will have no choice but to break with the restaurant and start his own International House of Pancakes, Reformed (IHOPR) off I-229 by the airport.