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The Truth Behind Rumors of Applebee’s Closing

Find out the truth about what’s happening to Applebees

Founded in 1980 and a staple chain restaurant ever since, Applebee’s has a location in seemingly every town in the US. Serving casual fare and cocktails in dimly-lit environs, patrons enjoy Applebee’s for their low prices and large portions.

The chain restaurant is facing some difficulty in 2022. Many people advocate for eating locally and shopping at small businesses – restaurants like Applebee’s may find it more challenging to lure customers into the parking lot. Some are even wondering, is Applebee’s closing down?

Applebee's restaurant

Requisitioned by IHOP in 2016, Applebee’s has generally declined in sales since changing parent companies. In 2021, parent company Dine Brands reported a multi-million dollar loss in income for the 2020 fiscal year. They experienced a 4.3% decrease in total restaurants in 2020 and a 35% decrease in total profits. 

It is no secret that Applebee’s is struggling – but just how bad do things look for this iconic American chain?

So, is Applebee’s Actually Closing?

Yes and no. Applebee’s is closing some of their locations, but not every restaurant. Dine Brands also owns IHOP, and IHOP is shutting down many more locales than Applebee’s. 

That said, the loss is still detrimental. Applebee’s is quickly declining from one of the most popular sit-down restaurants to completely extinct.

On social media, Applebee’s tends to be the subject of less-than-savory memes, which could be one of the factors contributing to the decrease in popularity. Since 2017, Applebee’s has closed 300 restaurants from 2,000 to about 1,700 locations. 

All of that aside, Applebee’s has an ambitious plan for upcoming years – they show no real signs of closing other than the restaurants that have already shut down.

CEO John Peyton plans to close less than 1% of Applebee’s locations this year, following a massive uptick in business in Q3 of 2021 – the restaurant brought in about $51,400 per week per restaurant, almost $5,000 more than the previous year.

Delivery and to-go orders are among the reasons Applebee’s has done so well recently, but dine-in is still the way to go for most consumers. With more and more people going out for meals as the pandemic rages on, the future looks relatively bright for Applebee’s.


Where Did These Rumors Come From?

Pretty much everywhere. Social media outlets, traditional news sites, and word-of-mouth have most people thinking that Applebee’s is likely to close its doors. 

Another reason? People want to eat healthier food. Applebee’s serves 1,400 calorie chicken tender dishes and comfort food, and the modern American consumer is gradually leaning towards lighter, unconventional fare.

That said, Applebee’s has added a few lighter options for this reason alone, along with dollar Margaritas. 

Applebee’s spokespeople may also be partially to blame, as they spread the news about the significant closings in 2020. After researching their financial status, journalists made the overwhelming conclusion that Applebee’s was no more – which may have been true a few years ago.

You can see why everyone thought Applebee’s was going under, but it turns out they are planning quite the opposite. With promising growth in Q3 (possibly due to a famous Tik-Tok song), the future looks bright for the American chain.


Will It Close in the Future?

Restaurant closures are entirely unpredictable. Factors like location, population, and demographic impact how well a restaurant performs and the number of customers they attract. 

Applebee’s does not plan on closing restaurants in 2022. By 2023, they want to open new locations nationwide and will begin construction once the final closings of 2021 get completed.

It is impossible to know if Applebee’s will close in the future. However, they are doing everything in their power to keep from doing so. After losing 1% of its restaurants in 2022, Applebee’s plans to build fifteen new locations in old restaurants or brand-new facilities.

According to the CEO, the goal is to finesse Applebee’s, but not permanently kill it off. They have not explained details, but improvements to the menu, drink specials, and money-saving combos are most likely going to be some of the first efforts.

As of May 2021, Applebee’s saw a 122.1% growth in revenue.


Other Restaurant Closings

The hospitality industry was undoubtedly one of the hardest-hit victims of COVID-19. Thousands of family-owned, major chain and fast-food restaurants closed due to worker shortages and payroll problems.

Restaurants reported a 26% decline in revenue following the implementation of COVID-19 protocols.

Major chains impacted by the virus are Applebee’s, The Cheesecake Factory, and Denny’s. Most restaurant chains ended up closing several locations or filing for bankruptcy. 

IHOP, the other enterprise owned by Dine Brands, had a more significant drop in revenue than Applebee’s. Sales at IHOP went down a whopping 37.6%, while Applebee’s bottomed out at around 19%. 

Applebee’s may be seeing some success, but IHOP continues to struggle in 2022. After closing nearly 100 restaurants in 2020 due to financial difficulties, IHOP shows almost no signs of improvement.

Dine Brands plans to open multiple Flip’d by IHOP locations in 2022 and 2023 in hopes of regaining customers and reaching sales goals.


Final Thoughts

As of January 2022, Applebee’s is not closing or in danger of closing. The iconic chain is gaining popularity from social media and millennials, along with new drink offerings and a revamped menu. They also plan on implementing new technology in their restaurants for a convenient, touch-free experience.

Additionally, people want to venture out because of the COVID vaccine and the lack of quarantine shutdowns or mask mandates.

After nearly two years of living with COVID-19, people want to go to sit-down restaurants and enjoy a meal with their families and friends – exactly why customers loved Applebee’s in the first place – from their famous appetizers to their 2 for $20 special.

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3 Comments

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  1. Applebee’s should bring back their lunch menu! Hopefully that’s what they mean by money saving combos.

  2. My late wife and I ate at the local Applebee’s for years. But in the last ten years or so I have seen this one go from family to gangsta. My church group used to go there on a Tuesday night, but they decided to cross this one off our menu.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.