Tag Archives: IHOP

Above Laurel Shopping Center, 1971

If you’re like me, you’ve often wondered what it would be like to fly over Laurel Shopping Center… in July 1971. Thanks to John Floyd II, who shared this fantastic print of a Kodachrome 64 slide from the collection of Laurel Rescue Squad, now we know!

Some eight years before Laurel Centre Mall would be built, the Hecht Co. building dominates the ample parking lot.

Directly behind Hecht’s, along Marshall Avenue, is an odd sight for those familiar with the area today—single family houses—the few remaining dwellings before the Arbitron Building would arrive in January 1979.

Further down Marshall Avenue, we see the 150-car parking deck for the new Georgetown Alley shops—15 stores which opened in April of that year. Marshall Avenue passed directly below the parking deck, in what was easily the darkest, creepiest corner of the shopping center.

In the foreground of the picture, along Route 1, we see the familiar blue gabled roof of the original International House of Pancakes. To its right, just across Marshall Avenue, we see just a sliver of the parking lot of Laurel’s original McDonald’s drive-thru—the building which would soon become the Big T/Tastee Freez.

And speaking of colorful roofs, note the tiny yellow speck just below the Giant Food neon sign near the shopping center’s entrance. Yep, it’s the Fotomat, where countless photos were processed over the years—although probably not very many from this perspective.

Be sure to click the photo for a larger view.
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Montgomery Ward + CB Radios

Breaker one-nine, breaker one-nine… We’re cruisin’ the mall with our Montgomery Ward CB radios, good buddy.

Laurel had quite the CB radio following in the 1970s—a veritable convoy, if you will. Those in the know created an informal “CB Club” that would meet at designated spots—including the original IHOP parking lot, among others, before proceeding to hang out. The topic was getting quite a bit of radio chatter over on the Lost Laurel Facebook page today.

Bob S. remembers:
Our hang-outs were the bowling alley and the upper level parking at the mall (until security would come) Then we had “Roll Call”, about 100 of us, once a week.
And Rick K. recalls how Montgomery Ward not only sold their share of radios, but actively participated:
Back in the day, the Laurel Montgomery Ward electronics department actually maintained an operating CB radio base station. They used the handle “Monkey Base”.

Wards seemingly went all out for the fad, even offering to print your CB radio handle (up to 14 letters) for free on any T-shirt you bought—as evidenced by the coupon below (complete with stylish line art of a 1970s guy rocking a shirt that reads “Big Eddie”). Naturally, this begs the question of whether any of our Laurel CB Clubbers had a shirt printed. Breaker 1-9, Wrongway, come back? Breaker 1-9, Little Dancer, are your ears on? Hello? Anyone? 10-4.

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IHOP’s Big Boy?

The end of Laurel's original IHOP, 1995. (Photo courtesy of Eric Ziegler)

As a kid, I walked from Steward Manor to the mall at least once a week. Under the railroad overpass on Bowie Road, up past the Fair Lanes bowling alley on Marshall Avenue, and on beyond the Ponderosa/Sizzler Steakhouse before crossing Route 1—cutting through the Bob’s Big Boy parking lot along the way.

Then, upon entering the Laurel Shopping Center grounds, I’d find myself beside the tall, imposing A-frame structure with the blue roof—the International House of Pancakes.

A 1970s postcard featuring an out of state, but remarkably similar setting.

Laurel’s IHOP was originally located in the iconic building for which it was designed, and situated just beside what was originally the Hecht Co. building (then Woolco, and then Jamesway…and soon to be L.A. Fitness). It occupied the space now being used by the extended strip mall parallel to Washington Blvd. In fact, when you go to that Starbucks and await your beverage,  you’ll be standing approximately where you once would’ve been eating pancakes. The entire left side of this shopping center (including Starbucks and Petco) sits on what was originally the IHOP grounds; as throughout the 1980s, only Radio Shack, Long & Foster Real Estate, and the Grecian Spa were housed there. Amazingly, Radio Shack is still in that same location on the corner beside Marshall Ave.

(historicaerials.com)

In the summer of 1993, an unusual move took place. IHOP decided to leave its building, and move into a slightly larger one just across Washington Blvd.—in the building that had recently been vacated by Bob’s Big Boy—where it continues to operate today.

But while highly successful, today’s modern IHOP doesn’t have nearly the same nostalgic aura that it had in the old building. Case in point, here are a few vintage pieces that represent that era quite well—including an actual menu from 1974 that will totally have you craving pancakes.

Before the building was demolished in 1995, it briefly saw new life as a Christmas decoration shop called “Santa’s Cottage”. The most notable change was the roof, which went from IHOP blue to Santa red. Still, passersby continued to mistake the building for what it originally was. According to a November 21, 1993 Washington Post article written by popular Laurel Leader columnist, Tony Glaros, “the old place still attracts creatures of habit in search of oatmeal, not ornaments.” Santa’s Cottage manager Carter Hoyle added, “It took about a month and a half to get the pancake smell out of here.”

For many Laurelites, myself included, there will always remain a connection between IHOP and Bob’s Big Boy. I can’t think of one without remembering the other. I’m sure there are other former Bob’s Big Boy locations that were eventually taken over by IHOP, but I don’t believe it was a universal change. So it was rather ironic—yet quite fitting—to come across an eBay listing for these vintage glasses, being sold as a pair. I doubt the auction will last until Christmas, but if it does, perhaps I’ll ask Santa for them—thus completing the trifecta.

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