How The Late-Night Debauchery At 'Club Applebee's' Helped Boost Its Stock

Applebee'sFries with that? Club Applebee’s in full swing.

Most people don’t know that in some parts of the U.S., Applebee’s restaurants — the most middle of all middle-market fast casual restaurant chains — turn into alcohol-fuelled party dens after 10 p.m.

At “Club Applebee’s,” dancing on tables, blacklights, and DJs are not uncommon. We published a story last August showcasing the clubs. The debauchery — girls licking whipped cream off each other, for instance — took place at a few restaurants in Central Florida. People were “hanging from the rafters on Thursday nights down there,” Bloomberg noted at the time.

We reported that the clubs were not part of Applebee’s’ regular marketing strategy … which made us curious. What was the deal with the random club scenes at our “neighbourhood Bar & Grill”?

After a conversation with representatives of the Applebee’s brand, we have some updates on Club Applebee’s. They managed to clear some things up for us regarding what has been going down after dark at their restaurants. The good news? Club Bee’s is still going strong.

As it turns out, Applebee's wasn't too pleased when Club Applebee's made headlines last year. Which is understandable for a restaurant targeting traditional families, like this one.

The rep explained to us that all but 23 Applebee's nationwide are owned by independent franchisees—smaller management companies that operate the branches in their region.

The Applebee's brand instituted their Bee's Late Night campaign to encourage franchisees to keep their restaurants open after 9 p.m., offer drink and appetizer specials, and provide locally relevant programming.

But this is what it actually looks like at some rogue venues ...

Applebee's brand managers carefully review local franchisee programming to ensure it aligns with the company's standards.

But they can't police every individual Applebee's.

This programming could be anything from trivia to karaoke to DJ dance events. The Late Night strategy has been a great success for a number of years, the PR rep told us.

A fun, safe environment must be provided, the PR rep told us, so that late-night diners (which could include children) and club-goers alike can have an enjoyable experience.

For example, karaoke song lyrics must align with brand standards.

Recent pictures have surfaced on Instagram that suggest there are still a few rogue franchisees failing to align with Applebee's values.

Some Yelp reviews show that the club scene isn't limited to the Central Florida region...

...and others show that the drink specials are probably worth it.

Since Applebee's officially launched Bee's Late Night in the summer of last year, the stock of their parent company, DineEquity, hasn't done too badly...

So while Club 'Bees may be a PR headache, it benefits Applebee's nonetheless.

Now check out another restaurant's marketing schemes...

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