AUBURN — IHOP’s local restaurant might close early Thursday to retrain staff in response to the allegation that a server asked black teenagers to pay upfront for their meals, manager Melvin Escobar said Tuesday.

He said the restaurant will most likely close at 2 p.m. Thursday for the training, which will involve the entire staff.

“We want to try to do the best for our customers,” he said. “We don’t want anything like this to happen again.” 

International House of Pancakes President Darren Rebelez said Tuesday, “IHOP and our franchisees have zero tolerance for actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type.”

He said the franchise is working to contact the affected customers directly to apologize, and is taking appropriate actions in line with its human resources policies.

“For 60 years, IHOP and our franchisees have strived to create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests,” Rebelez said, “and this isolated incident is not reflective of that ongoing commitment.”

Escobar said the restaurant has had problems with teens walking out without paying, but he said the server’s actions were inappropriate.

“This is the first time it happened,” he said, “and that will be the last time.”

The IHOP in Auburn. (Publicity photo)

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