I Ate at Applebee’s and Now They Are Closing Down 100+ Restaurants

I just read today that Applebee’s is closing over 100 stores this year and I feel partly responsible. Who knew this blog was so powerful? Maybe you heard, but I had lunch at Applebee’s last week. The popular restaurant chain is often the butt of my jokes and I figured that I should go see what it’s really like before I keep making fun of them. Before going any further, let me remind you that I am an equal opportunity offender and no restaurant is safe from my barbs, not even my own. A simple glance at my Instagram where I share the frightening photos of my shift meals will prove that. Finally, I have never and would never make fun of someone for working at Applebee’s. A job is a job and tips are tips. That being said, I ventured into an Applebee’s in Astoria, Queens armed with my cell phone where I live streamed my lunch. If I would have known that my actions would have caused so many places to go out of business, I never would have done it. But I did and I will always carry that shame with me for the rest of my life.

I entered at 3:15 and was promptly greeted by a friendly young woman who took me to my seat right away. At 3:18, my server Christian arrived at my table where he introduced himself and suggested an appetizer and a drink. “Way to suggestive sell,” I thought. He highly recommended something called a Red Apple Sangria, but I declined and ordered a frozen margarita with salt. (More on that later.) It arrived at 3:23 at which time I ordered a chicken quesadilla which showed up about ten minutes later.

The server: Christian was super friendly and did everything I would expect of a server. He took my order on one of those table top kiosks and it was my first experience with them. It seemed efficient enough and although I was tempted to hit the call button just to see how long it would take for him to come check on me, I never did. I also wondered how dirty it was. (Do those things get wiped down every day?) Regardless, Christian was great, even though I think he lapsed on his two bite check back. Also, he called me “dude” or “bro” a couple of times which was a nice attempt at pretending I’m not a big ol’ flaming queen.

The ambiance: There were about nine other tables when I got there which was surprising, seeing that it was so late in the day. I watched four high school girls come in and sit next to me and they were genuinely excited to be there. I pitied Christian because I knew they would probably leave a shitty tip. As expected, there were TV’s all over the place showing varying programs involving men playing with balls. “Sports,” I think it’s called.

The restaurant itself: My fork was dirty. Like not with water spots, but dried on food like dressing or something. Luckily, there were three other place settings for me to choose from, so I found the one that gave the impression of being the most clean and used it. (I must say, I think Christian should have cleared the place settings I wasn’t using, but whatever. He was busy bussing tables and being friendly, so it’s fine.) So many menus with so many pictures at Applebee’s! My eyes didn’t know where to look. Do people who eat at Applebee’s need photos of the food before they order it? Doesn’t that just set up the restaurant to fail because we all know that the food that comes from the kitchen will look nothing like the perfectly Photoshopped image in the menu.

The margarita: Oh dear. It tasted like Gatorade with a backwash topper. Way too much sour mix. Plenty of people told me via the comments on the feed that I should have ordered a perfect margarita if I wanted a good one. Ummm, so if I want something that tastes good there are certain things to avoid? Good to know, Applebee’s. I didn’t complain because I knew that the next one would taste exactly same. Complaining about a shitty frozen margarita at a chain restaurant is like complaining about Payless shoes being cheap. You get what you pay for. And yes, I drank every drop of it.

Worst margarita I have had in a long time. Still drank it.

The quesadilla: Okay, I liked it. It was crispy and smelled and tasted like butter which doesn’t necessarily mean there was any butter involved in the making of it. The chicken was tasty and I blocked out that it probably came from a sub-par food supplier where chickens are raised in tiny cubes never seeing the light of day. Yummy! The iceberg lettuce on the plate was fresh and crunchy and the sour cream was cold. I didn’t really venture into either of the sauces because… I mean…let’s not go crazy.

Quesadilla!

Overall, I got what I expected: decent service with adequate food. When I first mentioned on the Facebook page that I was going to do do a live stream from Applebee’s, some folks assumed I was going in there to be a dick. That’s not what I do. I am never a dick to my servers. One person in particular was especially upset with my plan but if she watches the video, she will see that I was nothing but respectful to the staff. So fuck off, Nicole. My only regret is that so many people saw the video and my disappointment with my margarita that the big wigs at Applebee’s felt it necessary to shutter the doors of so many restaurants. For that, I am sorry.

And yes, I left Christian a good tip.

5 thoughts on “I Ate at Applebee’s and Now They Are Closing Down 100+ Restaurants

  1. Jody Davis

    Hi! I enjoyed viewing your lunch video at Applebees. You picked up on many things that cookie cutter style restaurants have in common. I worked as a bartender for Applebees for 7 years, and can tell you that this chain, while good to me, suffered a huge identity crisis and still does. I was never really sure, even after new menu rollouts every 6 months or so, what Applebees specialized in or wanted to be. They went from ribs, to steaks, to Southwest, to pasta…on and on it went. And worst of all, they would discontinue items consistently, so that made it hard for my customers to commit to any menu item and harder to keep them as regulars. We can be the best servers and bartenders in the world, but if the food is mediocre and inconsistent it creates an impossible challenge to the staff…because, after all, people come out to EAT! I’m not surprised that your service was good, the Applebees crew I worked with were always on top of it despite the company’s identity crisis and style of service. But Applebees should have known for decades now that changing too much isn’t being progressive. What makes a restaurant special, sets them apart from others? Consistency. A specialized menu. Strong drinks (for Gods sake take away the jiggers and trust your bartenders!) I’m sad that the chain is being forced to close doors, as stated before, they were good to me. But this isn’t your fault for putting them on social media. This has been coming since the 90’s .

    Reply
    1. Jan E

      Hi Jody,

      I currently work for Applebees & I asked a corporate manager why we change the menu so often. Why couldn’t we go a year or two without changing it? I think if her eyeballs got any bigger, they would have fallen out! She acted offended & said they didn’t change all the time. Yeah, right…! Still chuckle over that one.

      Reply
  2. fbenario

    “So many menus with so many pictures at Applebee’s! My eyes didn’t know where to look. Do people who eat at Applebee’s need photos of the food before they order it? ”

    A number of studies have shown that menus with many pictures of its offerings lead to higher average tickets.

    Reply
  3. Alan

    Ah, Payless shoes. How I remember those days when my mom took my brother and I to Payless for new shoes for the school year, refusing to consider other shoe stores because they were “too expensive.” More often than not, by Halloween those shoes would fall apart and we would have to get new ones at…yep, you guessed it…Payless. Buying six pairs of shoes each for myself and my brother a year isn’t exactly saving money. Logic dictates buying higher quality shoes for maybe 25-40% more than Payless that would last a year or more.

    Reply

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