GLENDALE, CALIF. — Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar is reclaiming its stake in the casual-dining market with the introduction of wood-fired grills in nearly 2,000 of its restaurants in the United States. The chain also is introducing a revamped and streamlined menu featuring certified U.S.D.A. Choice steaks hand-cut in the restaurants as a signature item.
|Julia Stewart, chairman and c.e.o. of DineEquity and president of Applebee’s|
“We’re in the midst of a transformation at Applebee’s, and we are recommitting ourselves to every aspect of the guest experience,” said Julia Stewart, chairman and chief executive officer of Applebee’s parent company DineEquity, Inc. and president of Applebee’s. “Food is, of course, central to that, and in talking to guests, we discovered that a platform built on ‘U.S.D.A. Choice,’ ‘hand-cut in-house’ and ‘wood-fired’ was not only powerful but had the potential to differentiate us in a noisy and crowded market.
“This goes far beyond a few new menu items or a limited-time offer. This is the biggest investment in culinary excellence in the company’s history — transforming the menu, instilling pride in franchisee team members, delighting current guests and giving others a reason to come back.”
New menu items include U.S.D.A. Choice top sirloin steaks, bone-in pork chops with honey apple chutney and Cajun seasoning, cedar-grilled salmon with maple mustard glaze, and wood-fired grilled chicken breast. Meats and vegetables prepared on the new grills also will be featured in other dishes, including appetizers and salads.
Applebee’s, which first debuted in 1980, said shifting consumer tastes and brand perception issues have challenged the restaurant’s performance in recent years. Other initiatives under way include the brand’s largest and most comprehensive marketing campaign in its history, the remodeling of existing restaurants and the introduction of new restaurant designs. Applebee’s and its franchisees invested more than $75 million to purchase and install the new grills, provide a combined 60,000 hours of training for meat cutters, and support the introduction through the marketing campaign.“Together with our franchisees, we’re building the Applebee’s of tomorrow — embracing the best parts of our neighborhood roots and our passion for bringing people together, while transforming the guest experience in ways that enhance our connection with today’s consumers,” Ms. Stewart said. “If you haven’t been to Applebee’s in a while, it’s a different place than you remember.”