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.
Applebee's brand managers carefully review local franchisee programming to ensure it aligns with the company's standards.
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.
Recent pictures have surfaced on Instagram that suggest there are still a few rogue franchisees failing to align with Applebee's values.
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...
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