IHOP on Central Avenue reopened around 1 p.m. following a raid by Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and the FBI on Tuesday morning. Six other IHOPs in the Toledo area and Indiana were also part of the federal agent raid, which sources close to the investigation confirm involved an undocumented worker situation.
According to published reports, the locations are on Talmadge Road, Fremont Pike in Perrysburg, Spring Meadows Drive, Central Avenue, Elida Road in Lima, County Road 236 in Findlay and Evansville, Ind. All are owned by the same franchisee.
An IHOP spokesperson told WNWO that the investigation is not linked to terrorism, despite what other local news groups are reporting. The spokesperson also said the employees are aware of the investigation, cooperating with the federal agents and working with the local franchise owner to learn more about what is going on.
Scott Wilson of the Cleveland FBI confirmed that the investigation is a sealed warrant and that nobody in their offices told media that it was related to terrorism or money laundering. He also said agents raided one storage unit in addition to the restaurants.
The Better Business Bureau website reveals that IHOP area manager Maazen Kadir is the primary contact for the Spring Meadows, Central Avenue and Talmadge Road locations. Tarek Elkafrawi (alias Terry Elk) is listed as president of the Talmadge Road, Central Avenue, Fremont Pike and Findlay locations.
Our reporter on the scene spoke with an unhappy IHOP customer who said authorities were sitting at a table with a stack of what appeared to be papers at the Spring Meadows location. Police sent IHOP patrons off site while they loaded boxes into a U-Haul truck parked near the restaurant.
Perrysburg Township Police confirmed they assisted at the Fremont Pike location but do not have information to release at this time.
The U.S. Attorneys' Office had no comment when WNWO called Tuesday morning.