Applebee’s is a name that does not need much introduction. It is easily one of the top most popular restaurants that has exploded with success in the last few decades. Good food and good people is what they strive to represent. Lets dive in depth to see how they started and and grew into a brand that is loved and enjoyed by people across nations.
1980 – T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs,® is founded in 1980 by Bill and TJ Palmer in Atlanta, Georgia.
1983 – W.R. Grace and Company buys the Applebee’s concept from the Palmers.
1985 – Bill Palmer, the founder of Café Ventures, becomes an Applebee’s franchisee.
1986 – Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar is the new name. Kansas City residents Abe Gustin and John Hamra open the first Applebee’s franchise restaurant.
1988 – W.R. Grace and Company sells the rights to the Applebee’s concept to Abe Gustin and John Hamra.
1989 – Applebee’s International, Inc. (A.I.I.) completes its initial public offering of common stock under the ticker APPB and opens its 100th location in Nashville, Tennessee.
1992 – A.I.I. announces another public stock offering in 1992. By the end of the year, there will be 250 Applebee’s® in operation.
1994 – Lloyd Hill joins A.I.I. There are over 500 Applebee’s® locations.
1995 – Rio Bravo Cantinas (a Mexican casual dining restaurant franchise) is purchased by A.I.I. in 1995.
1996 – There were 819 Applebee’s® restaurants in 45 states, the Caribbean, Germany, and the Netherlands.
1997 – 960 business and franchise restaurants opened their doors.
1998 – Applebee’s® launches their 1,000th location in Aurora, Colorado in 1998. Abe Gustin, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, has announced his retirement. Julia Stewart has been named President of Applebee’s® International’s domestic business.
1999 – A.I.I. sells Rio Bravo restaurants to Chevy’s, another fresh-Mex restaurant chain, and has $2.35 billion in system-wide revenues with 1,168 restaurants.
2000 – Applebee’s® releases a new menu in 2000, and the number of restaurants exceeds 1,250. Further they expand its international presence by opening new locations in Latin America and the Middle East.
2001 – The total number of eateries has risen to 1,392. Julia Stewart has been named Chief Executive Officer of IHOP Corp.
2002 – The total number of eateries has risen to 1,496. The Heidi Fund, named after a Kansas City server, was established to provide financial assistance to Applebee’s® colleagues who experience tragic life-changing circumstances. Applebee’s® celebrates the 1,500th store opening in LaGrange, Ga., owned and operated by Bill Palmer, the founder of the original Applebee’s® restaurant in Atlanta and current Applebee’s® franchisee.
2004 – Applebee’s® establishes a successful relationship in 2004 by presenting its Weight Watchers® menu. Applebee’s® increases revenue by introducing Carside To Go pickup service.
2005 – Applebee’s® expands its international footprint to include Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Jordan. IR magazine has awarded Applebee’s® for its expertise in investor relations.
2006 – Lloyd Hill has announced his intention to step down as Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Dave Goebel has been designated President and Chief Executive Officer.
2007 – Applebee’s® opens its first Chinese location; Applebee’s® is named one of three finalists for the Gartner High-Performance Workplace (HPW) Excellence Award; Applebee’s Services, Inc. is purchased by IHOP Corp., led by Julia Stewart, in November, creating the world’s largest full-service restaurant company.
2008 – ServSafe Alcohol recognizes Applebee’s as the Best Chain Responsible Beverage Alcohol Service Training Program in 2008; Applebee’s® and IHOP join Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN) under the motto ‘Great Franchisees. Great Brands.’ Applebee’s Services, Inc. has named Michael J. Archer as president.
2009 – Applebee’s® launches RealburgersTM inspired by neighborhoods across America. During the company’s inaugural salute to these important guests, participating Applebee’s® locations provide active-duty and retired military members with a free lunch on Veteran’s Day. Applebee’s® is now open.
2010 – Applebee’s® Unbelievably Great Tasting and Under 550 Calories menu debuts five new healthier options, ranging from steak and potatoes to shrimp spaghetti. In March, Applebee’s® will launch its first location in Singapore. The SkinnyBee MargaritaTM, the industry’s first cocktail with fewer than 100 calories, will be available in April at the restaurant.
Applebee’s® introduces the “revitalization” concept in 2010, which includes changes to the restaurants such as remodeled interiors and exteriors with warmer color tones, contemporary designs, neighborhood-specific features, service improvements, and new food and drink selections.
2014 – The firm hopes to have completed the rejuvenation of all company-owned and franchise locations.
To get to know who are the industry key players, visit our Interview of the Week page.
To stay updated, visit our Franchise News section.
To learn more, visit our Franchising Tips section.