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IHOP parent takes control of 6 locations tied to fraud

Talmadge-IHOP

Authorities take boxes out of IHOP on Talmadge in West Toledo last September.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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Six of the seven IHOP restaurants that were formerly operated by franchisee Tarek Elkafrawi, who was indicted last week on multiple federal charges, remain open.

In a statement distributed this week, Dine Equity Inc., which is the corporate parent of the chain of breakfast restaurants, said it had terminated its franchise agreement with Mr. Elkafrawi and taken over operations of the six open locations.

"Dine Equity has also placed management teams at six of the IHOP locations to ensure proper operating procedures and customer service standards are followed until a new franchisee is secured," the statement said.

Federal authorities raided seven IHOP locations in September, including four in the Toledo area and one each in Findlay, Lima, and Evansville, Ind.

IHOP has since closed the Findlay location.

Tanya Valenzuela, a spokesman for IHOP, said the company would have no further comment.

In that statement, the company said employees in Findlay were offered consideration for positions at the other IHOP restaurants. It did not say why the Findlay location was closed while the others remain open.

According to officials, Mr. Elkafrawi, 54, purchased the Findlay location in 2004. The indictment alleges that in 2008 he directed an Evansville, Ind., man to set the building ablaze.

Included in the indictment were charges of arson for Mr. Elkafrawi and Jose Leon-Gonzalez, 36, the man accused of setting the fire.

In total, 18 people were indicted as a result of the investigation, on charges including money laundering, alien harboring, mail fraud, health-care fraud, identity theft, and false statements.

Mr. Elkafrawi lives in Middleton Township near Perrysburg.

Dine Equity of Glendale, Calif., operates and franchises IHOP and Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants.

The company has more than 3,500 restaurants in 18 countries.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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