By Aleasha Sandley, Herald Bulletin Staff Writer
ANDERSON — Anderson University students will wait in line for an hour for pancakes, students Graham Brown and Josh MacInnes found out last weekend.
On opening night of their new business venture, The Flop, hungry students formed a line that wrapped around the building in University Plaza, next to campus. Brown and MacInnes, both management majors at the school, considered it a success.
“On Saturday night, we could not have served a single person more,” Brown said. “We know we won’t be millionaires at the end of the month. At the end of the four weeks, we still want lines out the door, we still want people to be talking about it.”
The Flop, a late-night pancake house, will be open 10 p.m. Fridays to 10 a.m. Saturdays and 10 p.m. Saturdays to 3 a.m. Sundays in April.
In the first weekend alone, Brown and MacInnes more than doubled their sales goal for the first two days and made up 40 percent of their goal for the month.
“It was really just one of these ideas you’re just sitting in class throwing around,” Graham said. “For three weeks, it was in one of those stages where it could happen, it probably won’t. A week and a half ago, it went from slight reality to real reality.”
Brown, a junior, and MacInnes, a senior, have had several classes together at AU and are using what they have learned in class to fulfill their business plan for The Flop. The Falls School of Business provided the business’ start-up capital through its department initiative grant.
“We just provide the framework to make it happen,” said Falls School of Business Dean Terry Truitt said. “Class is important, but you have to get your hands dirty.”
The pancakes are made from a family recipe of MacInnes, whose father worked at a diner in Minnesota called the Highway Host. When he left the diner, his severance package consisted of the recipe for the diner’s buttermilk pancakes.
“We tweaked it a little bit,” MacInnes said. “That was just a cool thing to toy around with.”
The Flop offers buttermilk, whole wheat and chocolate pancakes, as well as regular syrup and MacInnes’ “Grandpa Rod’s pure maple syrup.” Students also can choose from a variety of toppings. All items at The Flop, including drinks, are $1.
“It’s a very sort of on-the-spot, customized experience when you come in here,” Brown said. “No two pancakes are the same. If you’ve tried one pancake at The Flop, you’re just scratching the surface.”
The Flop also offers the Stack of Death, a stack of 13 pancakes for $13. If the customer eats all 13, they get their photo on the wall.
“We just try to do fun stuff like that,” Brown said. “We want it to be a place where college kids feel comfortable.”
As far as advertising, the two students have been intentional about getting down to a student level, using social networking sites like Facebook to promote the restaurant.
“Everyone volunteered, everyone wanted to be part of it,” MacInnes said. “It’s one of those things that people just want to jump on.”
Falls School of Business Professor Emmett Dulaney said students were talking about the restaurant all over campus, and he planned to write the business plan for one of his classes.
Brown said at first people thought the students were crazy for trying to start their own business, but eventually the campus got behind them.
“That will be the longest lasting effect of this,” he said. “If we did this, what else can we do? It feels now that nothing is out of our reach. It feels hard not to think about what’s next.”
MacInnes said the two had learned a lot in their first week of business.
“Two guys can put together a business in a week and a half, and people get excited about it,” he said. “Who doesn’t like a loud, noisy restaurant late at night with pancakes?”
— University Plaza, intersection of University Boulevard and Scatterfield Road
— Hours: 10 p.m. Fridays to 10 a.m. Saturdays and 10 p.m. Saturdays to 3 a.m. Sundays in April