Applebee’s started with the same philosophy we follow today – focused on serving good food to good people. Today, what was once a popular neighborhood restaurant has grown to become a popular restaurant in neighborhoods all across North America – with almost 2,000 locations and counting.
1980s: The Beginning
Bill and TJ Palmer open T.J. Applebee's Rx for Edibles & Elixirs,® in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Palmers sell the Applebee's concept to W.R. Grace and Company.
Bill Palmer, principal owner of Café Ventures, becomes an Applebee's franchisee.
The name is changed to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar. Abe Gustin and John Hamra of Kansas City open their first Applebee's franchise restaurant in Kansas City.
Abe Gustin and John Hamra purchase the rights to the Applebee's concept from W.R. Grace and Company.
Applebee's International, Inc., (A.I.I.) completes an initial public offering of common stock under the symbol APPB and opens its 100th restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee.
1990s: Outstanding Growth
A.I.I. launches another public stock offering. By year-end, there are 250 Applebee's in operation.
Lloyd Hill joins A.I.I. There are more than 500 Applebee's.
A.I.I. acquires Rio Bravo Cantinas (a chain of Mexican casual dining restaurants).
819 Applebee's restaurants operate in 45 states, Canada, the Caribbean, Germany and the Netherlands.
960 company and franchise restaurants are open.
Applebee's opens its 1,000th restaurant in Aurora, Colorado. Abe Gustin, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, retires. Julia Stewart joins Applebee's International as President of the domestic division.
A.I.I. sells Rio Bravo restaurants to Chevy's, another fresh-Mex restaurant chain, and has record system-wide sales of $2.35 billion with 1,168 restaurants.
2000s and Beyond: A New Era
Applebee's introduces a new menu and the number of restaurants climbs over 1,250.
Applebee's expands international development by opening restaurants in Latin America and the Middle East.
The number of restaurants climbs to 1,392. Julia Stewart joins IHOP Corp. as their Chief Executive Officer.
The number of restaurants climbs to 1,496.
The Heidi Fund is established, in honor of a Kansas City server, to financially help Applebee's associates who suffer catastrophic life-changing events.
Applebee's celebrates the opening of the 1,500th restaurant in LaGrange, Ga., owned and operated by Bill Palmer, founder of the first Applebee's restaurant in Atlanta and current Applebee's franchisee.
Applebee's makes a successful partnership by introducing its Weight Watchers® menu. Applebee's gains sales by rolling out Carside To Go pickup service.
Applebee's expands international growth to Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Jordan. Applebee's is recognized by IR magazine for its excellence in investor relations.
Lloyd Hill announces transition to Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Dave Goebel is named President and Chief Executive Officer.
Applebee's opens its first location in China; Applebee's is named one of three finalists for the Gartner High-Performance Workplace (HPW) Excellence Award; Applebee's Services, Inc. is purchased in November by IHOP Corp., led by Julia Stewart, creating the largest full-service restaurant company in the world.
ServSafe Alcohol awards Applebee's the Best Chain Responsible Beverage Alcohol Service Training Program; Applebee's, along with IHOP, becomes part of DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN) behind the tagline 'Great Franchisees. Great Brands.' Michael J. Archer is appointed president of Applebee’s Services, Inc.
Applebee's introduces neighborhood-inspired Realburgers™ from Across America. Participating Applebee's locations thank active-duty and retired military members with a free lunch on Veteran's Day during the company's inaugural salute to these important guests. Applebee's opens its 2,000th restaurant in Harlem in December.
The Applebee's Unbelievably Great Tasting and Under 550 Calories menu launches with five new better-for-you entrees – from steak and potatoes to shrimp pasta. Applebee's opens its first location in Singapore in March. In April, the restaurant introduces the SkinnyBee Margarita™ – the industry's first cocktail with fewer than 100 calories.
Applebee's unveils the "revitalization" concept, which includes changes to the restaurants such as remodeled interiors and exteriors with warmer color tones, contemporary designs; features specific to the neighborhood the restaurant serves; service improvements; and new food and drink selections. The company's goal is to complete the revitalization of all company-owned and franchise restaurants by 2014.