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Top 10 Untold Truths About Applebee’s

Applebee's in The Big Apple: Photo courtesy of


Top 10 Untold Truths About Applebee’s

Are you one of Applebee’s diehard fans? If so, read and learn as we dissect the culture of a company that knows how to rise from the ashes of its hardworking grill. It’s time to demystify prevailing myths as well as uncover gems of hidden truth in a restaurant enterprise that makes most of its profits from top menu options that are dirt cheap to make or produce.

10. Applebee’s: Power in the Name

Applebee’s was founded in November 1980 by Bill Palmer and T.J. Palmer (no connection to Arnold Palmer of golfing fame) who were initially obsessed with copycatting a famous steak restaurant that they discovered in one of their marathon food trips. While it’s easy to understand how brands and copyrights can present a serious obstacle in the art of birthing a name, such as Cinnamon’s, which is eerily similar to Chilis in form, it’s hard to forgive a name like T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs. Believe it or not, this was Applebee’s name for some time, which made it eligible to be sold to W.R. Grace, the American chemicals company. In fact, the initial drugstore concept of the original Applebee’s owners was nothing short of laughable. It represents all the whirlwind of brainstorming that tends to persist along with all the confusion that goes with it. Until finally, after applying the paradigm shift principle of Stephen Covey, the dynamic duo finally comes up with simply Applebee’s which admittedly is a picturesque new terminology that combines apple with the bee appeal to elicit a happy feeling at the sheer mentioning of the name. Like one well-turned phrase, it shows what happens when you persist in your thought process without giving up until mental percolation unleashes some sort of divine inspiration. No doubt, the Apple logo (founded 1976) has had such a strong influence on the development of the Applebee’s brand, although subliminally at that.

9. Applebee’s Best of the Best: An Enduring Legacy

Applebee’s will always be the nachos capital of the world or so its Salsa Verde Beef Nachos proves. But the Nachos authority is also well-recognized for its equally fantastic riblets which are as popular with Chinese customers as well as Applebee’s fans in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Credit also goes to Applebee’s for pioneering the concept of molten lava especially as it applies to cakes and chocolates in particular. Applebee’s brave new world of fusion cuisine finds its best expression in Thai shrimp salad and that’s better left understated.

Whether you’re a sweet tooth who favors lavalike chocolate concoctions or a self-confessed riblets addict, there’s a place for Applebee’s in your heart. Like all well-established restaurants, however, there are skeletons in the closet. So rather than air their dirty laundry in public or through social media, Applebee’s would rather brush all these things under the rug. But in trying desperately to learn from its mistakes, and remaining an unstoppable force in the delivery of a delightful caravan of good stuff, Applebee’s has made it crystal clear that it plans on staying in the business. And this is good because if not, nasty Applebee’s withdrawal symptoms can rear its ugly head pretty soon.

8. Rebooting Old Favorites and Always Coming Up with New Ones

Just like the X-Men and Star Trek movie franchises, Applebee’s is likewise involved in rebooting old favorites and giving it a calorie and salt content makeover. World famous examples are Applebee mainstays Shrimp Wonton Stir-fry and Grilled Onion Steak, which have now effectively halved its caloric content, to the satisfaction of fitness aficionados and healthy eating proponents worldwide. At the same time, Applebee’s rivals Santa’s elves when it comes to developing new food concoctions such as Sriracha shrimp and s’mores-style churros in the appetizer category.

Admittedly from Applebee’s management itself, there’s a lot of microwaving involved in a bid to cut corners in order to reduce wait lines fast. Also, using a lot of styrofoams or expanded polystyrene is the name of the game when it comes to the takeout aspect of the Applebee’s business. And yet,  in spite of Wendy’s policy of never cutting corners as exemplified in its square patty approach to making hamburgers, Applebee’s Classic Burger is a standout. And that, even though Wendy’s started in the business with a more than 10-year lead.

7. That Cheap Movie Date Secret Weapon

You know what happens when you go out on a movie date. You two end up pigging out on nachos and cheese or popcorn and your $20 isn’t enough for all that junk. True. you end up burping a lot but that doesn’t mean that you’ve had your fill. On the contrary, the excess sugar and carbohydrates are fooling you and your date into thinking that you’re full. Now add the cost of movie tickets and you’ll realize that it’s been one swashbuckling highway robbery. The solution? Head out to Applebee’s instead. Your $20 will go a long way in giving you and your date a real satisfying meal that’s worth every dollar spent. It’s that dollar store feeling all over again, only grander.

Applebee’s is one of the restaurant industry’s bigzillas. It’s currently in the running for the title of the biggest full-service restaurant chain in the world with 1,990 franchises and 2,800 employees. Since opening in November of 1980, Applebee’s has been an unstoppable force in the restaurant business. Applebee’s is present in 49 US states plus one US territory, and 15 international countries. Occasionally beset by annoying lawsuits in many areas having to do with employer-employee relations, Applebee’s homegrown brand of customer service has garnered award after award from prestigious hotel and restaurant management associations.

6. Good and Bad Employer: Good Dog, Bad Dog

When you’re like Applebee’s that’s been in the restaurant for ages, you can’t do away with all the criticism about how you make your fries or how you turn the grilled steak on the iron bars. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. But at the end of the day, when you remain true to yourself like Applebee’s, customers will keep coming back for more of the same. There’s a reason why even the Arab world, the Chinese market, and the Latin American continent choose to have Applebee’s franchises in their home turf. It may be against one’s religion to order the pork from the menu, but because you have lots of other things to offer–it’s all good.

One day you’re on Forbes’ good graces and the next thing you know, you’re a haven for lawsuits in the arena of minimum wage battles, employee sexual harassment charges, and customer choking hazards. Oh yeah, life goes on in the restaurant business. You just keep doing what you do best and believe honest to God that your chicken fingers will wow the wok-loving Chinese. And you know what? Sometimes, you do manage to hit jackpot. With hundreds of recipes in your treasure chest from quiche to what have you, you’re like the late Prince who left the world a treasure trove of unreleased songs that will make the music legend shine for all time.

And who can forget about the Julia Stewart example? This little-known fact about the Applebee’s management is definitely one destined for the storybooks. The pretty woman started out as just one among many of IHOP’s charming waitresses. And apparently, the pancake authority, which with the passing of time will transform itself into DineEquity and in the process, Applebee’s future owner–starts them early. Julia was only 16 when she started charming the IHOP clientele with her serving charm. From then on, she would rise up the management totem pole until she suffered a major snub from the DineEquity top brass by failing in her bid to become Applebee’s CEO even though she became president of the company. It was bound to be a no pain, no gain scenario as she later earned a well-deserved promotion as the CEO of Applebee’s mother company. So to all the trying hard and extremely talented members of Applebee’s workforce, premium rewards do await those who struggle in the Frodo or Bilbo Baggins tradition. Talk about sweet revenge. And so, yes, Virginia there’s a future in working at Applebee’s.

5. Applebee’s Own Brand of Identity Crisis

There is news of Applebee’s closing an increasing number of franchises in 2016 and 2017. However, this happens all the time. Tim Hortons and even McDonald’s have their own share of franchises gone sour. The idea is to chop off the head of the beast when it becomes an underperforming asset. Otherwise, you’ll be like sugar or fats fanning the growth of cancer cells. And in fairness to Applebee’s also has quite a big number of healthy food choices that wow even the most discriminating calorie counters. So yes, franchise attrition will keep happening from time to time. Mistakes will always be made and sooner or later, someone will burn himself or herself from praying over nachos. But it is what it is.

What’s more important is that Applebee’s has proven itself skilled in the art of the comeback and just never gives up the test kitchen approach to authoring new culinary revolutions such as the Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Pepper-Crusted Sirloin and Whole Grains. Definitely, grilling chicken using only cedar woodchips is one exciting spin on an old recipe. Meanwhile, morphing tortilla into a soup is another stroke of genius. And all those innovative and taste-buds-irritating layers on your favorite steak is taking an urban legend to the next level. In fact, so mind-boggling and cutting are some of Applebee’s food creations that one food writer once accused the company of inadvertently putting plastic into its original dishes. As it turns out, the writer just happened to be unaware of sous vide, a fascinating trend in French cuisine. The technique involves enclosing raw fish and meats inside a plastic wrap and subsequently immersing them in the so-called sous vide machine that cooked the contents to precise temperatures that can’t be otherwise achieved by the grilling and oven techniques.

4. Applebee’s Isn’t Kidding: It’s Really the Booze that’s the Biggest Draw or the Sexy Servers

No matter how nachos or riblets have defined Applebee’s food business, at the end of the day, more loyal customers keep coming back for more than just steaks that literally melt in your tongue. Great conversation, super attentive personnel, and having an outrageously squeaky clean comfort room are always a big draw. But let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s the alcoholic beverages my friend or rather, the way the sexy servers shake and strut them in style. And we can only pray that none of these changes with the passing of the years. Applebee’s is here to stay because of this secret ingredient, no matter what the food critics tell you. The Nacho authority is just the tip of the iceberg. Dollaritas is the epitome of the bar in Neighborhood Bar & Grill equation.

3. Mom & Pop Beginnings

Mom and pop were what started Applebee’s relentless food quest which certainly didn’t look like it was bound to end there. You grow with the times and show them who’s boss by keeping every recipe under lock and key, while some of your servers cry foul for being paid at bargain-basement prices or being fair game for tipsy alpha male customers. Life is hard but for those who persevere, the Applebee’s experience shows that there’s light at the end of the tunnel or a rainbow after the rain. I mean, how many iterations for a business name did Applebee’s come up with until one day, it got it right. The first iteration was really embarrassing for it created the impression that Applebee’s was in the pharmaceutical and not the restaurant business. But life’s like that, you roll with the punches. The Millenials are giving you a hard time? No problem. Throw out nearly everything out of the window including your soul and no matter how often or how much you fail, just never, never throw in the towel. With thousands of Applebee’s franchises and still growing, the biggest full-service restaurant business with hundreds of tucked away recipes will never be beaten. In fact, with the Applebee’s cache of well-guarded secrets, someday, its originals will be the only things visible from outer space.

2. The Local Neighborhood Restaurant that Is and Isn’t

Applebee’s has kept morphing into different directions that defy even quantum mechanics or the Hadron Collider itself. Your Neighborhood Bar & Grill? Look again. Over the years, Applebee’s has prided itself in hiring celebrity voice over talents to do justice to its advertising campaigns. Somehow, the restaurant behemoth has managed to miss the point about what a neighborhood bar and grill is all about, especially in its home turf: the North American audiences. But as a restaurant that knows how to learn from its mistakes, Applebee’s will learn how to use selfies to its advantage or social media in general. I mean, the people who work here all have big ears. And even when things are not going well, what has kept many customers coming back from every nook and cranny of the world is that excellent customer service from a workforce that prides itself about being all out even when their paychecks are way below the minimum wage. Talk about dedication. Some Applebee’s employees just never know where to draw the line or never learn from their mistake.

But that’s love, bro. Applebee’s is an institution and a household name alike because of the selfless dedication of employees who show up for work in good times and in bad. And they’ll never, never put anything sinister in your food no matter how tempting it gets.

1. Use Applebee’s to Your Advantage: Calories Big or Small Is How You Make Them

Like Hot-shot Whiskey Chicken for just 660 calories and 12-ounce New York strip for 510 calories. True, 1,500 calories has the Chicken Tender Platter and 1,420 the innocent-looking Oriental Chicken Salad. So if you’re a walking calorie meter, stay away from such selections that include the equally notorious New England Fish and Chips. However, when you’re a diehard sweet tooth, we can’t expect you to stay away from Crack Jack Cake or Triple Chocolate Meltdown; unless of course, Applebee’s has sadomasochistic tendencies that we didn’t know about. Nevertheless, some people do need more calories. Just some examples are kickboxers, fitness trainers, incurable cyclists, and Tom-Cruise-like mountain climbers. You don’t want to faint when you’re at the top of what you do best. The solution? Switch to Applebee’s high-calorie diet when the going gets rough and tough to the max for you. It’s a far better alternative to taking performance-enhancing drugs which are still taboo in competitive sports. Plus, your brain’s pleasure center will love you for choosing the Applebee’s alternative.

Besides, some people are more needful of calories and salt than others; although over a thousand grams of sodium chloride is definitely breaking the health bank. What matters is that there are hundreds of food ideas to choose from, and more to come since Applebee’s officially overcame its millennials infatuation by breaking down interior decor renovations and food trends geared towards one generation alone. Apparently, the millennial drive would have made Applebee’s flat broke had it persisted because it lost its own identity from all the uncontrolled eating purge. At the same time, the restaurant chain also lost many customer mainstays who have only recently started to make a comeback. It takes 10 tips to tango in the world of restaurant operation, and the Applebee’s experience is both a living testament and the stuff of legends. So go ahead and help yourself. You deserve it.

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