Kara Nerio says she’s been giving a lot of hugs over the past week.
With the opening of Pegah’s Family Restaurant in the building that had housed an International House of Pancakes in Merriam for years before that restaurant closed in September, Nerio and the staff she manages have gotten to see patrons they’d missed over the past few months.
“There have been lots of happy reunions, lots of hugs,” said Nerio, who had been with IHOP for five years and was a manager when the closure was announced. “We were kind of lost when we found out the IHOP was closing. We really just had two weeks’ notice.”
When word reached Moe Sharifi, who took over the Pegah’s Family Restaurant chain four years ago, that IHOP was shuttering its Merriam location, he saw an opportunity that was too good to pass up. The location was fantastic, and the loyal IHOP patrons would probably respond well to the comfort food diner fare Pegah’s is known for, he thought. The restaurant was already closed when Sharifi drove the Pegah’s catering truck to the site at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Antioch Road to check it out. Nerio happened to be in the area and saw the Pegah’s truck in the lot. She and two of the longest tenured IHOP servers decided to track Sharifi down and see if he would be interested in bringing the former IHOP employees on if he opened a restaurant in the space. He readily agreed.
“We were very fortunate to find him,” Nerio said.
After weeks of renovations that brought new booths, tables, paint, carpet and ceiling fans to the space, Pegah’s opened for business in Merriam last week. Diners will recognize most of the staff, Nerio said. And she’s been getting “rave reviews” about the Pegah’s menu from longtime IHOP patrons.
“A lot of the food on the IHOP menu was premade, preprocessed, and this is all fresh from scratch,” she said.
The Merriam location features the same menu as Sharifi’s three other Pegah’s restaurants, including all day breakfast. The menu is embedded below: