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Lining Up to Celebrate Mother's Day

Star treatment comes at pricey brunches and pancake houses.

May 12, 2003|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

Catherine Norris didn't mind the 45-minute wait outside the International House of Pancakes in Costa Mesa. She figures long lines and Mother's Day go together.

"You come with a party of seven, you better expect to wait," said Norris, who drove the 90 miles from San Diego with her three children to treat her mother to brunch.

At least Norris was able to get a table. At many restaurants in Orange County, especially the fancy ones, tables weren't to be had. The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, which seated more than 1,500 people for brunch, stopped taking reservations four days ago and turned away more than 600 requests. The Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa, and the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa were all sold out.

"We haven't done this well since before 2000," said Richard Hammer, restaurant manager at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dana Point.

It didn't matter whether you wanted to spend $5.99 per person at IHOP or $75 at the Ritz-Carlton -- or whether you wanted to eat pancakes or filet mignon -- you were going to be sharing Mother's Day with a lot of other families.

At the Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach, people paid $50 a head for a three-course brunch that included roast duck, rack of Colorado lamb, Lake Superior whitefish and osso buco.

They were served by waiters wearing tuxedos as they listened to Frank Sinatra tunes from the piano bar.

"It's expensive, but we wanted to do something to make my mom feel special," said Tracy Brennan of Corona del Mar, who was seated between her mother, Mary Brennan, and her grandmother Esther Mepham.

"She deserves to be treated in style on this day."

Even though his restaurant was packed Sunday, Costa Mesa IHOP General Manager Benito Roman said mothers usually get treated to more-expensive restaurants than fathers when it comes to their special days.

"We're busy," he said. "But it's nothing like Father's Day. It seems like people take their mothers to a lot higher-end places than here. On Father's Day, they'll just go anywhere."

While Mother's Day often means flowers and poems, for some this year it meant scrambling to catch the Lakers' playoff game.

Livingston Rowland of Santa Ana didn't mind battling the mob scene Sunday at the IHOP. But the deal he made with his wife, Marie, was that they'd be out by game time.

"I've been taking her here for the last nine years," said Rowland, who was wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey with blue warmup pants. "This year we came a little early because there's a little business we have to take care of later."

Marie didn't have a problem honoring her husband's request. She was wearing her Mother's Day present from son Trey -- a Laker top.

"It broke his heart to give me that Laker jersey," said Marie, whose son was wearing the jersey of Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson. "He hates the Lakers."

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