Applebee’s to close up to 35 restaurants this year: What’s happening in the Neighborhood?

Applebee’s to close up to 35 restaurants this year: What’s happening in the Neighborhood?

Applebee's and IHOP Restaurant Updates

Applebee's and IHOP Restaurant Updates

By Joseph Lamour

If you’re aching for a Dollarita, you may have to travel a little further this year.

Dine Brands Global, which owns fast-casual chains Applebee’s and IHOP, will be closing multiple Applebee’s locations across the U.S. this year. Applebee’s president Tony Moralejo revealed the exact figure during a fourth-quarter earnings call on February 29.

“We’re expecting 25 to 35 net fewer domestic Applebee’s restaurants,” Moralejo said during the call, before adding that up to 25 new IHOP restaurants are set to open this year. “With our new development strategy in place, we feel confident in our ability to continue to open up new restaurants and scale the footprint of our brands over time.”

In 2017, Applebee’s closed more than 100 restaurants across the country. Dine Brands CFO Vance Yuwen Chang said during the earnings call that the restaurant chain had net domestic closings of 33 restaurants in 2023. In contrast, IHOP opened 46 restaurants domestically last year, 17 of which opened during the brand’s fourth quarter.

“I’ll add that these closures, these closures aren’t a sign of struggling franchisees. They’re offering a sign of struggling trade areas,” Moralejo said. “And I can assure you that our leadership team, we’re pulling every lever we have to offset the downside of closings.”

Moralejo tells TODAY.com that “Applebee’s is a mature brand, and it is natural to have closures with changing trade areas and franchisee agreement expiration.”

He adds the chain’s closure rates are between 1% — 2% of its system, which he says is normal for a brand of its age and development. Applebee’s boasts more than 1,500 locations across the country.

“Our goal is to return to net unit growth in the coming years with a new value engineered prototype and a continued focus on increasing top line sales while improving our franchisees’ margins,” Moralejo explains. “Today, our franchisees are still interested in growing the brand, and we remain encouraged by our recent deal with the Flynn Group, our largest franchisee.”

Representatives for Applebee’s did not return TODAY.com’s request for comment on which locations are closing.

Still, with even more IHOP and Applebee’s hybrid locations opening up, boneless wings are not likely far from any one of us.

According to a May 8 press release, Applebee’s year-over-year domestic comparable same-restaurant sales declined 4.6% during the first quarter of 2024. To-go orders accounted for 22.1% of the company’s sales during that same time period, compared to 23.1% in 2023.

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