Applebee’s parent company, Dine Brands Global, said that there will be fewer closures of Applebee’s this year and that it will even try to open some new restaurants, according to a report Monday (Feb. 24) by The Wall Street Journal.
The news comes amid increasing challenges for so-called casual dining restaurants as they face a bevy of healthier choices and more competition from delivery services.
Dine Brands also owns IHOP, and it said that it wasn’t going to close more than 15 Applebee’s restaurants after it recently closed 200 under a restructuring plan.
Dine Brands Chief Executive Steve Joyce said that it was trying to convince customers to eat at its restaurants regardless of the competition.
“There is no question we are in a share competition. We are growing, but we are taking it from other people,” Joyce told the WSJ.
The news helped to bolster the company’s stock, but it ended up losing less than 1 percent value as the S&P 500 fell 3 percent as a whole on coronavirus fears, although the company has very little to fear from the virus.
Many casual-dining eateries are struggling because of a shift toward healthier, fresher options. Companies like Denny’s and Chili’s Grill & Bar, once reliable stalwarts for profit, have turned to promotions and discounts to help retain customers.
“For a lot of our customers, it’s a real treat for them to go out and they want real value,” Joyce said.
Dine Brands said that it held off on making a deal with a national delivery company because it wanted to make sure the terms were agreeable. By waiting, Joyce said, it is now seeing delivery sales that are almost as profitable as its takeout orders.
Applebee’s takeout and delivery sales went up 22 percent in 2019, and IHOP sales went up 33 percent. Dine Brands said this Valentine’s Day was the largest one-day sales for delivery and takeout ever for Applebee’s.