What is the secret of Applebees success?

Post
senor boogie woogie
Cheeseburger
2013/02/03 10:23:22
I was reading about the minister who stiffed an Applebees waitress of a tip, writing something like "I give God 10%, why should I give you 18%?". Then the poor waitress gets fired when she posts the receipt online.
 
What I want to know is, what is the secret to Applebees success? I just cannot believe that people are at home and thinking about going out to eat with someone jumping up in exclamation "Let's go to Applebees!"  I just do not believe this has ever happened. The below website is an overview of their menu.
 
www.applebees.com/menu
 
The food, even on their site, looks generic. Just does not stand out in a crowd and not even as appealing as another chain restaurant would be. Just boring American food in a casual atmosphere. A Shoney's with a bar. It has been years since I have been in an Applebees because I live outside the United States, but again, they would not be a place I would go to. If I want a steak, I'll go to a steakhouse.  Go to a rib place for ribs (I am from the South, why would I eat at freaking Applebees for ribs?), seafood, anything else. I would rather go to either a more local/regional place or at least, go to a chain place to get what I wanted (like steak, ribs etc.)
 
I think that Applebees probably does better in smaller communities with limited choices in food, or travelers off the highway. Or someone who is hungry and tired, staying in a hotel, and Applebees is across the street. If I were a tired, hungry person in some podunk town and next to the hotel was an Applebees, great.  But in my American hometown, not a cosmopolitan place by a stretch, Applebees would be way down the list.
 
Still, it sort of puzzles me how this company stays in business, sort of the restaurant version of Radio Shack, it's there, but no one knows why its there or why it thrives when so many other restaurant concepts have withered away. I do not hate this company, and if I ate there, it has been many years ago. But why would anyone go there and what is the lure?
kozel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 11:02:46
It's for those that grew up eating McDonalds thinking it was good food.
post edited by kozel - 2013/02/03 12:32:26
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 11:17:16
IDK; they are succeeding without us.
ChrisOC
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 11:29:44
I can get a free meal there on Veterans Day, also Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse.
ChrisOC
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 11:29:44
I can get a free meal there on Veterans Day, also Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse.
felix4067
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 12:02:34
Like every other chain, it's consistency. Their food isn't awful, and I actually like some of the things they serve. It might be generic, but it's really not bad. Their prices aren't bad, either. But consistency is the thing. If you travel a lot and don't have time to search for and find Roadfood, chains are your friend. It doesn't matter if you're in Topeka or San Antonio or Miami, the food is exactly the same. That holds huge value for a lot of people. Also, they're open way later than any Roadfood-type place I've ever been able to find, so for someone like me who regularly gets out of work at 10pm or later and needs food, that comes in very handy.
 
And actually, I have been part of a conversation on more than one occasion where we're sitting around trying to figure out where to go, and someone says, "Let's go to Applebees!"  It does happen.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 13:00:57
Until about six or eight months ago I'd not been to an Applebee's in years. That was because my only time in one resulted in a very, very long wait for the first visit from a server, followed by an even longer wait for the ordered food, which turned out to not be even close to what was ordered, and cold to boot. I was reluctant to try again, but as it turned out, the service was good, the food was good, and I really enjoyed it. I'm guessing that it had something to do with the fact that this Applebee's was in Western Pennsylvania where the people are just plain terrific, and my first visit was to a store was right here in central Ohio. lleechef and I have been back a couple of times and I was very satisfied. I recommend the Applebee's in Monaca, Pennsylvania. The burgers were really good.
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 13:18:46
I feel bad, as my experience was horrible at Applebees. The food was horrible, the service even worse. I will say one thing-i had to go with family, as it was their birtday choice.I enjoyed their sliders...really fresh beef!However, wings are bad. i make better wings-not that hard. And they charged me extra for blue cheese-and that is what the original wings came with-blue cheese dressing!
kland01s
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 13:43:25
Upfront I will tell you that since I have been a Roadfooder from ten years ago, I am now a disabled  handicap person who rides a mobility scooter.  I rarely leave the house. My life and styles and where I eat are very different now. I have many many places to order a carry out meal and I usually pick Applebees because of their  carry out packaging and decent food. Just the other day I had the under 500 calorie garlic steak and my partner had shrimp fettuccine.  Applebees food has always been good and it serves my needs. Don't broadly judge. Maybe someday you won't be able to walk, I didn't ask for this.
kozel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 13:48:09
felix4067
Like every other chain, it's consistency. Their food isn't awful, and I actually like some of the things they serve. It might be generic, but it's really not bad. Their prices aren't bad, either. But consistency is the thing. If you travel a lot and don't have time to search for and find Roadfood, chains are your friend. It doesn't matter if you're in Topeka or San Antonio or Miami, the food is exactly the same. That holds huge value for a lot of people. Also, they're open way later than any Roadfood-type place I've ever been able to find, so for someone like me who regularly gets out of work at 10pm or later and needs food, that comes in very handy.

And actually, I have been part of a conversation on more than one occasion where we're sitting around trying to figure out where to go, and someone says, "Let's go to Applebees!"  It does happen.

You nailed it! The search for consistency is why the traveling public (especially the traveling public with kids in tow) seek out the familiar, ergo chains. I'd rather risk being disappointed in the search for a pleasant surprise.  Well said Felix.
FriedClamFanatic
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 14:01:22
I'll do their appetizers..if it's the only place around.  I always figured it was the 20-something gals and the 60-something guys......with the 30+ guys waiting in the wings (cheap, but hopeful)
kozel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 14:29:25
FriedClamFanatic
I'll do their appetizers..if it's the only place around.  I always figured it was the 20-something gals and the 60-something guys......with the 30+ guys waiting in the wings (cheap, but hopeful)

Wait, I'm 60 something; where's the nearest Applebees?
mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 14:54:30
When I went to sam's little league regional in 2009, I was amazed at the other parents lack of inters in relatively interesting places. There was a very good indian place within walking distance of the hotel, an In N out less than a quarter mile mile away and a whole town full of Salvadorian places, A Hat restaurant. Almost everyone ate at chain places like Outback, apple bees and McDonald's.
felix4067
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 15:13:15
kozel

felix4067
Like every other chain, it's consistency. Their food isn't awful, and I actually like some of the things they serve. It might be generic, but it's really not bad. Their prices aren't bad, either. But consistency is the thing. If you travel a lot and don't have time to search for and find Roadfood, chains are your friend. It doesn't matter if you're in Topeka or San Antonio or Miami, the food is exactly the same. That holds huge value for a lot of people. Also, they're open way later than any Roadfood-type place I've ever been able to find, so for someone like me who regularly gets out of work at 10pm or later and needs food, that comes in very handy.

And actually, I have been part of a conversation on more than one occasion where we're sitting around trying to figure out where to go, and someone says, "Let's go to Applebees!"  It does happen.

You nailed it! The search for consistency is why the traveling public (especially the traveling public with kids in tow) seek out the familiar, ergo chains. I'd rather risk being disappointed in the search for a pleasant surprise.  Well said Felix.

Thank you. The difference between me and a lot of people on this site is that I don't consider that to be a bad thing. Especially if you've got kids, you need them to eat. What you don't need is for them to be screaming and throwing fits because they're starving. Especially if they're starving because you took them to a really cool-looking Roadfood-type place and the food was crap. I will gamble on food more often than not if it's just me, but again...if I'm working out of town I need food, and I need it now. I also need to be able to eat it, because food definitely is fuel. If I gamble on something that looks neat and lose, then I am completely screwed until my next meal break, which is at least five hours away. Doesn't sound like much, but when you now have to go what will be at least 11 hours between meals (assuming the one I gambled on is awful and I can't eat it) while doing hard physical labour, it's a lot.
 
Chains definitely have their place. And honestly, Applebee's is probably of better quality than most in its class.
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 15:35:26
Applebee's is big in medium sizes to small places where they occupy
the "nice restaurant" niche where no other alternatives exist. 
As Felix said, the kids can eat, the parents can have a drink or a beer, and everyone goes on their way happy.
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:27:02
mr chips

When I went to sam's little league regional in 2009, I was amazed at the other parents lack of inters in relatively interesting places. There was a very good indian place within walking distance of the hotel, an In N out less than a quarter mile mile away and a whole town full of Salvadorian places, A Hat restaurant. Almost everyone ate at chain places like Outback, apple bees and McDonald's.
For the past 13 years or so a group I was a part of tried to explore many different restaurants of all ethnic varieties in our tri-State area - on the other hand my wife and her friends go to lunch weekly also and they almost invariably wind up at a chain restaurant like Applebees or Red Lobster etal.  They do not seem to really care about the food they eat as much as the conversation etc .  My group loves good conversation also but we just seem to get off more on the different food variety however the female members of our group are a whole lot less into trying new things than the males are.

NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:31:30
Some of our female friends even refused to go out with us because of the places we chose.
Heartbreaksoup
Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:35:46
Years ago, I was with co-workers on a business trip to Columbus GA.  I thought that B. Merrell's, a locally-owned "TJ McTchotcke's" sort of place known for their really good wings, would be a guaranteed-uncontroversial place among unadventurous eaters.  When I suggested it around lunchtime, a co-worker turned up her nose.  "What is THAT?!" she said.
 
Our host replied, "Well, it's kind of like an Applebee's..."
 
Co-worker whined, "Why don't we just go to Applebee's then?"
 
As for me, I occasionally bought food there to take home when the AA ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators scored on a power play and everybody in the arena got a BOGO entree... cheap way for a single dad to feed two kids, you see.
kozel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:44:02
NYPIzzaNut
Some of our female friends even refused to go out with us because of the places we chose.

Like Hooter's?
kozel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:47:58
mr chips When I went to sam's little league regional in 2009, I was amazed at the other parents lack of inters in relatively interesting places. There was a very good indian place within walking distance of the hotel, an In N out less than a quarter mile mile away and a whole town full of Salvadorian places, A Hat restaurant. Almost everyone ate at chain places like Outback, apple bees and McDonald's.

Standing in NYC's Chinatown watching the tourists coming out of a Subway (sandwich place not the train) makes me want to scream.
CCinNJ
Sirloin
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:51:28
We should have a NYC get-together and do that!
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:57:55
CCinNJ

We should have a NYC get-together and do that!

Scream? A flash mob of old folks in mobility scooters. I'm in.
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 16:59:33
kozel

NYPIzzaNut
Some of our female friends even refused to go out with us because of the places we chose.

Like Hooter's?
Nah like Puerto Rican, Spanish, taquerias, Vietnamese etc..
 
post edited by NYPIzzaNut - 2013/02/03 17:00:55
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 17:01:55
Some don't even dig Chinese or Tex Mex places.
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 17:03:09
kozel

mr chips When I went to sam's little league regional in 2009, I was amazed at the other parents lack of inters in relatively interesting places. There was a very good indian place within walking distance of the hotel, an In N out less than a quarter mile mile away and a whole town full of Salvadorian places, A Hat restaurant. Almost everyone ate at chain places like Outback, apple bees and McDonald's.

Standing in NYC's Chinatown watching the tourists coming out of a Subway (sandwich place not the train) makes me want to scream.
It is like that all over the world I am told.

NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 17:04:29
Lots of sheep in human form I am afraid.
 
I will take lamb's brains anyday.
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 17:05:56
Or bun bo hue soup spiced up to a 10!
 
 
 
 
With lots of water LOL
agnesrob
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 17:21:28
Well, I am a female and would never refuse good company due to inferior food. On the other hand, I am a food lover, who, on occasion likes BK, Taco Bell or McDonalds. I also love Fois Gras, Caviar, lobster and dry aged beef. I guess I just love food! When given the opportunity to eat in a local ethnic establishment over a chain, I would not go with the chain.
post edited by agnesrob - 2013/02/03 17:22:38
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 17:47:44
Can you get great pizza where you live?
CCinNJ
Sirloin
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 17:57:34
It's New Jersey!

Of course.
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 18:16:17
I have heard lots of folks from Jersey complain about the state of pizza there.
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 18:17:39
You gotta go to Iowa for good pizza.
post edited by 1bbqboy - 2013/02/03 18:19:44
CCinNJ
Sirloin
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 18:27:02
People from New Jersey never complain about anything.
agnesrob
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 18:33:15

agnesrob
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 18:38:38
NYPIzzaNut

Can you get great pizza where you live?


Yes! And I am lucky to have my pick! My choice is Ray's Brick Oven pizza in neighboring Montvale ,NJ. It's just the way we like! Thin crust in the middle but a doughy circumference! Just right!
NYPIzzaNut
Filet Mignon
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 18:53:37
Is the owner Italian?
CCinNJ
Sirloin
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/03 19:57:56
Isn't everyone?
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/04 02:18:15
The Applebee's in the East Valley of PHX do very well. Always crowded. A lot of regulars. Kind of a Cheer's/ neighborhood bar atmosphere.
billyboy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/04 07:29:54
I gave up going to Applebee's years ago after having too many bad experiences at various locations.  Bad & indifferent service, low quality food (and this is including free meals there via holiday gift cards).  I do frequent the occasional chain, but whenever possible I do like to give the local restaurateurs my business.
FriedClamFanatic
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/04 10:09:50
kozel

FriedClamFanatic
I'll do their appetizers..if it's the only place around.  I always figured it was the 20-something gals and the 60-something guys......with the 30+ guys waiting in the wings (cheap, but hopeful)

Wait, I'm 60 something; where's the nearest Applebees?

Alas, so am I...and it's just another Urban Myth!
bartl
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/06 23:14:09
OK, I eat at chain restaurants, and I find them to be mostly OK. But I tried two different Appleby's, and am not at all tempted to go back to one. The first one was one of those, "would you like some food with your salt?" places. When one opened up walking (well, by New York City standards) from my house, my wife and I decided to give it a try, well, at least after giving it a few months to get its act together. We went there, and the tableware was filthy. We pointed it out to the manager, who got us fresh tableware, and that was it. Not even an apology. The food there was not even up to Chili's/TGI Friday's standards, although it wasn't bad. Certainly not good enough to give them another chance.
hatteras04
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/07 10:26:13
I am not an Applebee's fan at all.  I have one walking distance from my office and I can count on one hand the number of times I have been there for lunch in the last 5 years.  We will occasionally go for a beer after work and a few of the appetizers are ok and the beer is cold so that's tolerable.  I am not against ever going to chains but I find others in the same category to be better like Chili's, Max and Erma's, and Champp's.  If we are going to eat at a chain my preference is for the Italian ones like Carabba's or Bravo. 
ken8038
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/07 18:08:27
An Applebee's opened near me about 10 years ago. Shortly after it opened I went with my kids (who were in thier early & mid teens then) while my wife was visiting her sister in Texas. The food was good enough and the service was very attentive. I was impressed, promised my wife we'd go soon when she got back.
 
A few weeks later we returned. I guess the HandsOn Management period had ended. We stood around for 10 minutes waiting to be seated. Waited in our booth for another 10 minutes before we were handed menus, ordered 4 sodas from the server who said she's be back with our sodas in a couple of minutes and she'd take our order. That was the last we saw of her. After another 10 minutes we got up and left. We certainly would have complained to the host or somebody before leaving, but amazingly, there was absolutely no one at the host station or anywhere nearby. We've never been back.
 
Bonk
Double Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/07 19:56:49
In Southern Ohio, their tall draft domestic beers are $2 during happy hour and are served very, very cold. That's enough reason for me to go.
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/11 03:18:55
A garbage chain selling mostly frozen garbage.....worst of the sit down chains!!
collinf
Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/11 16:33:59
leethebard

A garbage chain selling mostly frozen garbage.....worst of the sit down chains!!

 
I tend to agree.  Although they used to be a little better, once IHOP bought them, the quality took an even bigger nose-dive.
 
ken8038
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/11 20:11:47
The final word about what goes on behind the scenes working at Applebee's is probably the chapter about it in Tracie McMillan's book, "The American Way of Eating".
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/02/18 16:59:05
Answer to original question...their secret is they cater to a young crowd who wouldn't know real food from frozen....it's the under 30 and over 70 crowd!!
senor boogie woogie
Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/03/29 08:08:50
I think that is probably another secret to their success, that it does sell Ok to decent food for whatever they charge for it, and that they do a good bar business, with good prices for alcohol. Obviously local people run and work in the restaurant and it is probably popular because of that. I will also say again that I think Applebees does well with the travelers off the highway and being near hotels and whatnot. I remember the Applebees which was across the street from a huge Hilton hotel in Jackson, Mississippi (on County Line Rd.)
 
Applebees, or other chains of that flavor are not bad places to work for young(-ish) high school and college aged people and probably a good place to break in as a bartender.  I am the OP and I never said anything bad about Applebees, but I have never ever when I was hungry and wanted to eat out, to eat there. There were just too many options, either in the chains or locally. Besides, this was Mississippi, where there is actually a state law requiring all people over 18 to know how to cook a delicious down home meal. Those who cannot are subject to fines and prison time. Really, look it up.
 
cathyftr
Hamburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/03/29 22:25:31
senor boogie woogie

I will also say again that I think Applebees does well with the travelers off the highway and being near hotels and whatnot. I remember the Applebees which was across the street from a huge Hilton hotel in Jackson, Mississippi (on County Line Rd.)



 
This is certainly the case in my neck if the woods with Applebees.
 
Winchester, VA...the Applebees is on Route 50 west of town. There is a Courtyard by Marriott nearby and while that helps another factor is that if one heads west into West Virginia the Applebees, IHOP and Sonic are the last of such places all the way until the Clarksburg/Bridgeport area in central West Virginia . That is a good 3 perhaps 4 hour drive between the two cities. It has been years since I have taken that drive. Romney the biggest town between the two cities is pretty much limited to fast food like McDonalds and local mom & pop restaurants.
 
Martinsburg, WV...Applebees is located within walking distance of a Days Inn, Holiday Inn and a Hampton Inn.
 
Front Royal, VA...Hampton Inn is nearby as well as a very large Holiday Inn.
 
Charles Town, WV....Their Applebees is located not only near several hotels and motels but also within walking distance of the huge Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races as well and since the restaurants inside the casino are quite expensive such as The Final Cut Steakhouse ( my husband says they are just as pricey as Ruth Chris ) not too mention Hollywood still allows smoking inside. Result. the Applebees do get quite a bit of the casino crowds who don't want fast food and do not want to bother walking into a crowd of smokers just to get something to eat.
 
 
post edited by cathyftr - 2013/03/29 22:26:46
bartl
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:What is the secret of Applebees success? 2013/03/31 10:12:59
I'm changing my tune about Applebees a little bit. My 88-year-old father-in-law loves chain restaurants, and we've taken him to lunch in a couple of Applebees in Staten Island, NY, near where he's currently living. The food was chain restaurant quality (good, not great), but the places were clean, and the management and staff were friendly and attentive, especially to a fussy elderly man. I have come to the conclusion that the standards in Applebees restaurants are not as uniform as they should be, and that whether they are typical chain restaurants or sub-par ones depends on their individual management.
 
Bart