JACKSON HEIGHTS — The popular IHOP on Northern Boulevard reopened Monday, more than a year after a fire gutted the building.
The International House of Pancakes, near 73rd Street, reopened at 7 a.m. and was already half full within 30 minutes, with the staff — nearly all of whom worked at the old restaurant — greeting familiar customers.
"We're very excited to be back in business," said Terry Case, vice president of operations for Mr. Stax Incorporated, which manages 50 other IHOP restaurants.
After the March 2013 fire gutted the store, it was "challenging" to reopen, between dealing with insurance, ripping up the store's interior and getting all the necessary paperwork, he said.
Despite the more than yearlong hiatus, 98 percent of the staff returned, Case said.
"They're all excited we stayed on," he said, adding that "they didn't miss a beat" at the reopening.
Customers in the restaurant were happy to see it return — including Ursula Gutierrez, 25, and Jonathan Rios, 24, who brought their 15-month-old daughter Malory for her first trip to IHOP.
The Elmhurst couple used to visit this location every Sunday to try something new on the menu. They hadn't been to one for at least a year since it closed, they said.
"It's our anniversary and we were craving IHOP," Gutierrez, who ordered a waffle with eggs, said.
They ordered a cheese omelet for Malory's introduction to the chain, one of 14 locations in New York City.
They were also pleased to see the same staff serving their food.
"I recognized a lot of faces, and it was nice to see they stayed the same," Gutierrez said.
IHOP, 73-01 Northern Blvd., is open Sunday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until midnight. For more information call 718-429-5452.