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FDD Talk 2015: The Applebee’s Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on May 4, 2015

in Casual-Dining Restaurant Franchise, FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings, Restaurant Franchise

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Applebee's Ultimate Trio Photo by mooshee85

In this FDD Talk 2015 post, you’ll learn the following:

  • Section I – Background information on the Applebee’s franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for an Applebee’s franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Applebee’s financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2015 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2014 average weekly sales for the 1,800 domestic franchised Applebee’s restaurants that were in operation for all of the fiscal year 2014 (excluding the 23 company-owned restaurants)

Section I – Background Information

Applebee’s is embracing its bar and grill roots with an emphasis on bold.

With new menu sections, jazzed-up commercials featuring music that is promoted in the restaurants and online, and suggestions for beverage pairings like the new Cider Bourbon Infusion, the restaurant chain is repositioning itself as a fun destination for people who like to party.

The new Shareables, Pub Plates & Bar Snacks menu debuted in February 2015, with favorite menu items along with new recipes such as Sriracha Shrimp, Kobe-Style Meatballs and Double-Crunch Bone-in Wings. In addition to the individual dishes, Applebee’s also offers a mix-and-match sampler.

The appetizer menu shakeup follows the Pub Diet, introduced a month earlier, which offers customers four pub dishes with wholesome ingredients such as whole grains and quinoa. On the menu are Pepper-Crusted Sirloin and Whole-Grains, Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken, Shrimp & Broccoli Catatappi and Savory Cedar Salmon.


Applebee’s started out with a pretty long name. Bill and T.J. Palmer opened their first restaurant in 1980 in Decatur, Georgia, and named it T.J. Applebee’s RX for Edibles & Elixirs. After the second location opened, the company was sold to W.R. Grace and Company. Bill Palmer was named president of the Applebee’s Division and bought his first Applebee’s franchise in 1985. Today, he owns more than three dozen restaurants.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, Applebee’s is currently owned by DineEquity, formerly IHOP Corp., which purchased the company in 2007.

New Applebee’s President

Steven Layt was appointed president of Applebee’s on Feb. 25, 2014. He replaced Michael Archer, who left to pursue other opportunities, DineEquity said in a news release.

Layt had been senior vice president of operations for Applebee’s since January 2012. He was previously chief operating officer at Buffets Inc. and held multiple senior management positions with YUM! Brands.

Finger Food for Grownups

In August 2014 Applebee’s introduced Crosscut Ribs, meaty bone-in ribs cut to a size that’s easy for snacking as finger food, as long as you have some wet wipes handy. The ribs are served with new Sweet Asian Chile or Smoky Chipotle sauce, or the classic honey barbecue sauce.

All-In Burgers were also introduced in August, featuring burgers whose toppings are pressed into the beef patty (“all in”) during the grilling process.

Applebee’s brought back its Take Two menu for a limited time in the summer of 2014. Diners could choose two of five selections on the Taste of Summer menu.

A new kids’ menu, introduced in January 2014, was designed to please kids as well as parents and nutrition experts. The menu meets the National Restaurant Association’s LiveWell nutrition criteria, while its 26 menu items offer kids more flexibility in meal combinations. The two-tiered menu also provides different options for big and little kids.

Tabletop Tablets Debut

Applebee’s has been installing tabletop computer tablets as part of a plan, announced in December 2013, to add 100,000 tablets to restaurant tables. Customers can order their food via the tablets and pay their bills with a mounted card reader. Tablet games can be played at the table for a small fee. Additional features are planned.

Electronic Gift Cards Revamped

In November 2014, Applebee’s made changes in its eGift-card offerings that included the capability for groups of people to join in on a collective card. In addition to adding money to the social-media-friendly cards, people can choose to contribute specific food items. Other new features include custom designing, delivery animations, and the ability to add a photo or an audio or video message.

20 Years in Canada

In addition to celebrating 30 years of operation in 2014, Applebee’s also celebrated 20 years in Canada in September 2014. When the first Canadian Applebee’s opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1994, it also became the chain’s first international restaurant. The celebration included a recipe contest and the launch of new menu items, such as the Poutine Burger, to showcase Canadian cuisine.

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Applebee’s franchise costs, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD (updated).

Section III – Financial Performance Representations (Item 19, 2015 FDD) and Analysis

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