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When Al and Jerry Lapin opened the first International House of Pancakes in Toluca Lake, California on July 7, 1958, they never dreamed that five decades later the family restaurant they founded would become the American icon it is today.

QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica is one of the Central American countries where Dine Equity, owners of Applebee’s and IHOP brand, has chosen to accelerate its international expansion.

Daniel del Olmo, president of the corporation formerly known as IHOP Corporation, said they are looking at three regions: Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Among the reasons for Costa Rica, the company said that the country has a booming economy and Costa Ricans are exquisite in their gastronomic tastes. This means that they recognize and appreciate the quality and value in preference for American brands.

In Costa Rica, the company already has three Applebee’s.

“We are pleased with our franchise partner, Aguacero de Bendiciones, and there is interest on both sides to strengthen our presence in the country. Similarly, we are actively looking for a partner to bring the IHOP franchise restaurants in the country and we are confident of finding the right franchise partner soon,” Olmo said.

Both the IHOP and Applebee’s brands are present in Guatemala. In Panama, the first IHOP is expected to open before June of this year.

With more than 3,600 Applebee’s and IHOP restaurants in 20 countries and a 99%-franchised system of more than 400 franchisee partners, DineEquity is the largest full-service restaurant company in the world.