Diners are enjoying a free “short stack” of pancakes today at more than a dozen IHOP restaurants in the Bay Area for the ninth annual National Pancake Day fundraiser.

The fundraiser benefits hospitals that are part of the Children’s Miracle Network. Those enjoying the free pancakes in the Bay Area are encouraged to donate money that will go to Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland.

Nationwide, the fundraiser aims to raise $3 million for the hospitals.

The free-pancake deal is offered until 4 p.m. today.

At a San Francisco IHOP at 200 Beach St. in Fisherman’s Wharf, a store employee said staff members are preparing for an onslaught of customers after school lets out this afternoon. He said the kitchen is prepared to make as many pancakes as possible.

In Livermore, an IHOP staff member said business was picking up this afternoon. There are other IHOP locations in South San Francisco, Santa Clara, Foster City, San Rafael, Union City and other parts of the Bay Area.

More details about the fundraiser and participating restaurants can be found online at www.ihop.com.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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