Have a Funeral Repast at IHOP?

In an interesting attempt to broaden his customer base, Clifford Gennarelli, owner of the IHOP on Broad Street, is advertising the family restaurant as a spot for funeral receptions, with packages starting at $7 per person. 

A story on NJ.com, details how the purveyor of pancakes, traditionally known for its heaping portions of comfort food ranging from enormous four-egg omelets to strawberry French toast stuffed with cheesecake , recently got into the funeral repast business.

While many other IHOPs have party rooms, the Bloomfield restaurant will be the first in the state to cater to funerals. According to the article, Gennarelli got the idea recently after a local church held a funeral repast there. He sent out a flier to Essex country undertakers advertising the new packages.

Gennarelli suggests that the “sanctuary of syrup” can be modified to meet the needs of mourners with a party space that seats 60 and a big screen TV that can play a video or memorial about the person who died. There is also a special menu available that offers entrees like penne alla vodka.

Some people, including State Sen. Richard Codey, who is also a licensed funeral director, find the macabre marketing move amusing but in poor taste:

According to Codey, it would be unethical for an undertaker to accept the IHOP offer as stated on the flier. In his mind, making a deal to collect a cut of a restaurant’s profits is beneath the dignity of funeral directors.

“No funeral director that I know would engage in that practice, and my family has been in the business for a hundred years,” says Codey.

Gennarelli insists that the restaurant doesn’t “make any money on these parties” and the marketing campaign is just a way to bring in new customers and give them some variety.

What do you think? Tell us in our poll.

Photo: Wikipedia

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  1. “Some people, including State Sen. Richard Codey, who is also a licensed funeral director, find the macabre marketing move amusing but in poor taste”

    There are some that do not.(From the article)

    Gayle Porter, a professor of management at the Rutgers School of Business in Camden, agrees with Gennarelli. In her mind, funeral homes are like any other profit-making enterprise.

    “Some people in the midst of turmoil over final arrangements for a loved one might be happy to receive information on a possible spot for a gathering after the formal services,” says Porter, via e-mail. “In today’s cynical consumer environment, they might automatically assume there is some type of deal.”

    In the food and beverage industry, referral fees and profit-sharing initiatives are common, says Jack Koumbis, chairman of the New Jersey Restaurant Association.

    “Restaurants have relationships with funeral directors,” says Koumbis. “Restaurants have relationships with party planners. The fee is just a thank you. It’s not normally as high as 25 percent, though. It’s usually 5 percent or less.”

  2. I actually think this is a great idea. I’ve sadly been to way too many repasts,and they have been held everywhere from Bella Napoli in Bloomfield and Portobello’s in Oakland to the Chinese buffet on Route 23 near Willowbrook Mall. A lot of people usually end up attending a repast–whether it’s to catch up with family, reminisce about the departed, or just get a free meal–so I think offering a starting price of $7 per head is a great deal, especially considering how much all the other aspects of a funeral cost. Plus, the article says it–IHOP serves “comfort food.” What better time for comfort food than after a funeral? I think it’s a smart marketing move for IHOP to advertise as a place for a repast. I’m sure there are many families–both those who simply love pancakes and those who are looking for less expensive dining options–who will be glad to hear of this opportunity.

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