It was a half hour before noon Monday when a federal agent showed up at IHOP and showed Rachel Yoakum his badge.
“I honestly thought it was the health department or something,” said Yoakum, the general manager of the newly opened IHOP on 151st Street in Overland Park.
But it turned out the International House of Pancakes would be getting a visit from the nation’s top diplomat and the agent was there for a security sweep.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo soon arrived at the restaurant with his family and a team of agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
“You don’t normally see stuff like that in IHOP, so it was like what the heck?” said Yoakum, who recalled six SUV’s pulling up to her store at noon exactly. “Everybody in the whole store, even customers, were like is that who I think it is?” Yoakum said that some customers thought that Pompeo was going to deliver a speech. Instead, he ordered two scrambled eggs, two pancakes, two strips of turkey bacon and a Pepsi.
Pompeo had been spotted getting BBQ at Q39’s Overland Park location the day before.
It’s the former Kansas congressman’s second visit to the state this year. He’ll be there again next month to deliver a speech at Kansas State University as part of the prestigious Landon Lecture Series.
Pompeo’s August visit and upcoming speech have helped reignite speculation about Pompeo’s political future in the wake of Sen. Pat Roberts’ retirement announcement.
Pompeo has repeatedly downplayed his interest in the open Senate seat, but he remains the top choice of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Sources close to Pompeo have stressed that this month’s visit was purely personal.
The reason for the visit to Kansas — and to IHOP — was to celebrate his mother-in-law’s birthday. Yoakum said Pompeo’s mother-in-law was treated to a birthday sundae and song.
The secretary of state posed for photographs with employees, shook the hands of customers and even signed books before departing from the restaurant.
“I just shook his hand and said thank you for your service,” said Zach Fischer, one of the waiters who met Pompeo.