Applebee’s Is Finally Sick Of Millennials, Decides To Go Back To Its Roots

Have you been to Applebee’s in the last two years? If so, you might notice that it’s tried to get all fancy, offering all sorts of high falutin menu items that might not appeal to your everyday Nance and Rand: Barbecue shrimp in a sriracha-lime sauce? Chicken wonton tacos?  Fancy-ass items like that belong at somewhere more Chili’s, not an Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar.

Applebee’s tried to mix things up to attract millennials back to the restaurant. Except they lost themselves in the process, recently closing 135 Applebee’s locations, and are now bringing back their old recipe for success: All-you-can-eat and 2-for-$20 specials. Hell yes, MORE riblets!

In an earnings call earlier this week, John Cywinski, president of Applebee’s, called his own company out for being try-hards. Via INC:

Now, let’s shift attention to our guests and perhaps one of the brand’s strategic missteps. Over the past few years, the brand’s set out to reposition our reinvent Applebee’s as a modern bar and grill in overt pursuit of a more youthful and affluent demographic with a more independent or even sophisticated dining mindset, including a clear pendulum swing towards millennials. In my perspective, this pursuit led to decisions that created confusion among core guests, as Applebee’s intentionally drifted from its — what I’ll call its Middle America roots and its abundant value position. While we certainly hope to extend our reach, we can’t alienate boomers or Gen-Xers in the process. Much of what we are currently unwinding at the moment is related to this offensive repositioning.

Pretty happy that Karl Welzein finally has a place to let his hair down again on a Friday night. Hope Applebee’s didn’t lose him to the Chili’s down the street.

I don’t care what kind of jokes Middle Class Fancy has about Applebee’s: You can’t tell me that the app platter with spinach dip, mozzarella sticks, wings, and a half quesadilla isn’t a thing of beauty. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Brandon Wenerd avatar
BroBible's publisher and a founding partner, circa 2009. Brandon is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees BroBible's partnership team and other business development activities. He still loves to write and create content, including subjects related to internet culture, food, live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. Email: