Applebee’s is owned and operated by Dine Brands Global, one of the world’s largest full-service dining companies. The California-based powerhouse, previously known as DineEquity, franchises both Applebee’s and its sister brand International House of Pancakes (IHOP). In 2019, Dine Brands reported total assets of 2.05 billion U.S. dollars and an annual net income of 104.3 million U.S. dollars. WhileDine Brands global revenue figures grew in 2019 after several years of decline, it could not match the revenue that was generated a decade earlier, when Applebee’s first merged with IHOP. According to Dine Brands’ annual reports, Applebee’s franchise restaurants sales reached 3.95 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, down from 4.2 billion the year prior.
As a casual dining chain, Applebee’s belongs to the broad landscape of full-service restaurants (FSRs). This type of sit-down establishment offers table service and can encompass anything from family-style eateries to Michelin-star restaurants. In the United States, full-service restaurant sales reached over 297 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. That year, an estimated number of franchised full-service restaurants running across the country was 33,160, and there were over 1.11 billion FSR employees in the U.S. alone.
With overall sales figures declining, many of Applebee’s branches were forced to shut down in recent years. In 2019, a total of 1,787 Applebee’s restaurants operated worldwide, a net reduction of 50 units compared to the previous year. The franchise reported closures across most of its international locations in 2019, the most drastic cut being witnessed in Mexico, one of Applebee’s key target markets outside of the U.S. Back home restaurant numbers reached 1,665 units in 2019, marking the fifth consecutive year of nationwide closures.
To appeal to younger audiences and take advantage of their purchasing power, Applebee’s introduced technological features like server tablets, tableside payments, and Wi-Fi across most locations. The company also implemented online ordering and delivery services. As a result, Applebee’s was able to respond to the early stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the U.S., by boosting its curbside pickup and other off-premise sales while most of its dining rooms remained closed.