Home News Local news Rooty, Tooty, Fresh 'n Fruity: IHOP Opens in Tutu Park Mall

Rooty, Tooty, Fresh 'n Fruity: IHOP Opens in Tutu Park Mall


Feb. 12, 2007 — The island's "only official family restaurant" was filled with its trademark "happy people" Monday afternoon, as the IHOP in Tutu Park Mall was christened at a well-attended ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The spiffy new eatery was filled with community members, dignitaries and plenty of family as Beverly and Allie-Allison Petrus opened the doors on their newest venture.
Allie has worked toward this day for about the last year and a half. He and Beverly also own the Subway franchises on the island, which they bought about three years ago.
After Pastor Gerald McDonald gave an invocation, the Petruses shared a little of the restaurant's background."We were at an IHOP in Florida when Allie looked around and said, 'You know, I like this concept,'" Beverly said, then paused. "I wondered where he was going with this craziness. He says it's been about a year and a half coming, but it took half a year to convince me."
Both Petruses looked delighted with the fruits of their work on Monday, as they greeted one and all. Allie emphasized the family nature of their endeavor.
"This is a family restaurant, a community meeting place," he said. Illustrating his point, he pointed to tables filled with "my aunts, my sisters, and their children." And, "There's my next-door neighbor." Closer to home, he introduced their 13-year-old daughter, Ki'Yanna.
First Lady Cecile deJongh Jr. and Second Lady Cheryl Francis were very much in attendance, mingling with the crowd and assessing the restaurant's family ambiance. "I'm so proud of them," dejongh said, chatting before her official remarks. "I knew they were the ones who could do it. I like the Subways. We bring the kids there because it's healthy."
Speaking officially, deJongh said, "You are a shining example for the community." Adding a personal note, she said, "I have fond memories of IHOP. That's where John kind of, sort of, proposed to me."
Francis added a few words: "I am so happy it's here. It's my favorite place for breakfast, and I'm happy for you and we wish you success." A St. Croix resident, Francis said she would have to make it to St. Thomas for breakfast now and then.
Among the personalities in the room were top executives from IHOP: Richard Celio, vice president, and Jess Sotomayor, executive director. Sotomayor has been here before, but it was Celio's first visit: "I've been here about 20 hours. Your island is pretty, but I can't believe the traffic."
Sotomayor has visited the island since Petrus' initial inquiry about opening a franchise here. "I had to come and see if it made sense to open here," he said.
Running an IHOP franchise takes hard work. The company has stringent standards for training and sets exacting standards for customer service. Beverly and the restaurant's manager, John Greenaway, traveled to the States for a total of 10 weeks training. Allie lured Greenaway, an island native, from a Florida job to come home and manage the restaurant.
For a look at the background of the project since its inception, see "@Work: IHOP."
Praise for Petrus' vision in opening the restaurant came from Monique Creque, Tutu Mall marketing manager, and mall owner William Mahaffey. Allie "can be tough, but he gets it done," Mahaffey said.
Allie introduced Lenore Edgecomb, their business partner, and the company CPA. "She keeps things in order," he said. Her husband, David Edgecomb, UVI drama instructor and longtime director of the university's Reichhold Center, stood nearby, along with Sens. Carton Dowe and Shawn-Michael Malone, who offered their congratulations.
The restaurant is large, well lighted and beautifully decorated in soft colors. Comfortable booths complement the color scheme. The 4,000-square-foot eatery will seat 140, with additional meeting rooms. It will operate from 7 a.m.
to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, while staying open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. It officially opens at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
So far they have hired 92 employees, Beverly said. Many stood at attention Monday, looking professional in their new uniforms before they began passing out the restaurant's signature pancakes to the crowd of about 60. The Bertha C. Boschulte steel band played outside.
"It's been an incredible journey, hard work," Allie said. He smiled. "We have nowhere to go now but forward."
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