TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – A spokesperson for Dine Brands, the company operates IHOP, confirmed that at least Tri-Cities IHOP locations closed last month.

The official did not give the reason for the closure of local IHOP restaurants in Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol, Virginia.

“We are not aware of any plans by the Franchisee to reopen these locations. We greatly appreciate our neighbors’ patronage over the years and hope to welcome back Pancakers at one of our other locations in a nearby location soon,” the statement said. 

A former area manager for the franchise that owned the three Tri-Cities told News Channel 11 on Friday that the franchise closed because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

Previously reported:
IHOP locations across the Tri-Cities shut their doors after the franchise owner of 49 IHOP locations closed last month, an area director told News Channel 11 on Friday.

According to Vince Justice, who served as the area director for the Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol and Boone, North Carolina locations for five years, the franchise owners closed the company in mid-April, shuttering the doors of 49 IHOP locations from Nashville to Virginia Beach and the Carolinas.

Justice said the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic slowed business at the restaurants to the point that the franchise that owned them, Carolina Family Restaurants Associates, closed down.

Justice said he was laid off April 1, and word came of the closure of the restaurants on April 16.

“When all this happened, we went from no dine-in service to only takeout,” he said. “IHOP wasn’t a very big takeout type of breakfast.”

In the two weeks since Justice said the franchise closed, he said he’s gotten several calls from those interested in purchcasing the franchise.

Several of the locations, including Kingsport and Johnson City, just completed renovations, he said, adding that he thinks someone will purchase the restaurants left unoperable by the franchise’s closure.

“Somebody else could come along and open them back up,” he said.

News Channel 11 reached out to IHOP for comment and did not receive a response by 10:30 Friday morning.