You may already know that today, March 1, is IHOP's “Free Pancake Day,” but did you know that D.C. residents already paid for those pancakes with a $766,000 grant through the Department of Health and Human Services? David Freddoso reported on the new Columbia Heights “Federal IHOP” back when it opened:
How did this community become the taxpayer's beneficiary? Butch Hopkins, CEO of the Anacostia Economic Development Corp., explained to me that his organization had applied for and received the $766,000 grant from HHS last year, to invest in the new restaurant in exchange for a minority equity stake.
AEDC has put other government grants to work in genuinely underserved neighborhoods like Anacostia. And Hopkins, who takes a modest $56,000 salary from AEDC (although he receives a lot more from a related for-profit entity), has been doing this sort of work since before I was born. But I still had to ask him why they are “developing” such a well-developed neighborhood. Doesn't Columbia Heights already have every kind of business under the sun?
“They do now,” Hopkins told me. “They have IHOP!”
Now taxpayers are finally going to get their silver-dollar rebate. In pancakes.