Bringing Family Back To Dinnertime

The restaurant business has been searching for Chief Innovation Officers to help push their restaurants to the top, and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be taking my talents to Decatur, Georgia, where the original Applebee’s was founded back in 1980. It’s common for restaurants to sometimes blend together to the usual customer, ultimately leading to the “I don’t care” preference when people are deciding on where to go to eat. However, through the innovation that I hope to bring to the table, Applebee’s will be able to get back to its roots, in addition to getting ahead of its customers, in order to be the top choice for those when hunger strikes.

In a highly competitive market, it’s all about market share, and how a company can maintain or increase that market share over time. The first step in my mind in achieving that is to go back to some of the values that Applebee’s had supported in the early 2000’s, and that was the idea of family and community. Bringing back slogans such as “Together is Good” and “There’s No Place Like the Neighborhood” help demonstrate to its audience how the restaurant is a happy community where consumers can feel welcome. This might not be the most innovative of ideas, but going back to the roots that Applebee’s was built on will go a long way. Secondly, to go along with improving the feeling inside of the restaurant, the ambience will need to be improved. Without even thinking about food, it’s easy to see when walking into the restaurant that it is dark, crowded, and noisy. Proper lighting, and rearrangement of both old and future locations could completely renew the feeling one gets when walking in or even thinking about an Applebee’s restaurant. This all goes back to the idea of creating a welcoming environment where each customer can feel like family. Thirdly, the food at Applebee’s hasn’t really created raving fans like other restaurants have. In order to draw its target market away from competitors, change must be initiated with the food it produces – both by supplying more unique options on the menu, as well as supplying fresher ingredients in order to make their dishes. By combining these three different aspects, Applebee’s will be able to continue innovation and become a mainstay in the restaurant business.


Dark settings and small seating arrangement are one of many flaws at Applebee’s.


Red Tomato is certainly an organization I could pair up with throughout this process. The non-profit could help supply us with healthy and fresh produce from local farmers, which would allow us to offer the best menus possible. Additionally, this process will certainly affect competitors, as Applebee’s becomes the best option in the restaurant business in any city or suburb. However, it will also affect the local community, allowing people within the community a common place to go and meet up at, whether it’s a Friday or Saturday night, or a week-day lunch. With the proposed ideas, I believe that John Rawls would most be okay with this change through his Justice as Fairness ideology. Through an egalitarian economy, Rawls would accept our search for market share – if consumers are willing to leave on restaurant and go to Applebee’s that is a fair transition that will have fair effects on all parties connected to the switch.


13 thoughts on “Bringing Family Back To Dinnertime

  1. Ive actually checked out the Applebees here in Lewisburg a few times and was pleasantly surprised with the experience. One thing I do notice, though, is that their menu is very long. While some may enjoy the variety of offerings, I think it is beneficial to the quality of each dish if they were to identify their core competencies/ dishes and focus on perfecting these, instead of trying to offer some of everything. I think they should also narrow down their target market, as this could prove beneficial in simplifying the scope of their menu items. I agree with a lot of the suggestions that you make and as your focus is on gaining market share, I think that Milton Friedman would agree also with many of the suggestions youve laid out.


    1. I agree that this may work at a local restaurant that wants to cater their menu to the local market. The one issue with Applebee’s is that they are a national chain and need to have a bunch of options for people across the country. I think that they are not trying to seem like a high quality restaurant, but a restaurant where you can find consistency. Also, I have linked an interesting write-up from a supposed Applebees employee on reddit about the food quality, enjoy… (you have to look down a ways but the overall askreddit is a good read)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great link Peter… did you look that up after reading the post or do you just have that link saved for some reason?? Haha

        Anyway, it’s always interesting to see a first-hand view of a business from its employees, as you will always learn something that you can’t find out from just being a customer. An interesting point that the person brought up was that professional chefs may have higher standard, but people working for $9 an hour aren’t going to care how the kitchen looks, and that will have a large butterfly effect on the rest of the food-making and food-serving process.


    2. Brady – I was struggling to find a good philosopher who’s ideas would best back my plans, but I definitely think Friedman would be a good option. In the free market, consumers should be able to flock wherever they decide to, and businesses need to react to the changing preferences of those consumers. In the restaurant business, with so many options to choose from, it certainly is difficult to do that, but Applebee’s certainly has some paths to pursue to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always up for varied dessert options. Applebee’s wouldn’t be my first choice of a restaurant to go to, but I might reconsider if they really stepped up their dessert game. Huge moves for a chain. Love the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can’t go wrong with adding more dessert options, and I completely forgot about the Appetizer deals Morgan mentioned below, so those are certainly game-changers. It seems that there’s a gap between those who want more food options and less food options, but I’m sure everyone would be in agreement of having the freshest ingredients available.


  3. You say that returning to the roots isn’t an innovative idea, yet we have seen an increasing return towards simpler times in all realms of our life. Specifically in the food industry, we have seen how there has been a shift from standardization to differentiation and quality. I believe the approach of taking Applebees back to its roots is a very innovative idea that would make Applebees stand out as an original restaurant rather than a chain of restaurants. It is this kind of differentiation that is needed in today’s day and not the massive chain restaurants that are developing. I believe that Applebees could even differentiate itself by creating customized menus for different parts of the U.S based on the geography and the tastes of the areas.


    1. It’s a good idea for a restaurant like Applebee’s to go back to its roots in my opinion, but if it wants to do that, it has to commit to it. A complete makeover could go a long way in earning back some of the target market that the franchise has lost. And as you said, some variation in menus by geography would be an interesting route to take, but one that could lead to different people coming to the restaurant that you wouldn’t get by just having a regular menu across all locations.


  4. While I am not a regular Applebees goer, I hear a ton of people raving about their half apps (50% off appetizers). There is a lot of potential with Applebees, however, because they are a large franchise it is easy to lose their initial roots as you mentioned. Focusing on fostering a more family friendly, homey environment for its customers can do wonders in the restaurant chain world. The food also isn’t the healthiest of options, so introducing Applebees to fresher food would definitely increase it’s value.


    1. Totally forgot about those Appetizer deals, they’re definitely a big part of today’s Applebee’s. They should certainly stay, but going back to the company’s roots could do wonders moving forward. A welcoming restaurant for families to eat at, both during the week and on the weekend, is what many communities need, and Applebee’s has the opportunity to be that restaurant. A few small changes in the way management thinks at Applebee’s could pay huge dividends.


  5. I really like this idea. Applebee’s does seem a bit dark and unfriendly at the time. I agree with Peter that Applebee’s goes for constancy as their main goal. The food is reliable and pretty tasty most of the time. I totally agree with Dan that returning to roots is a popular thing to do these days. It seems that throwback themes provide a nice bit of nostalgia for people and give customers an escape to a better time.


  6. Hey Doug, I think you had some wonderful and “innovative” ideas. I have been to Applebee’s a few times in Lewisburg, and I never really noticed or thought about how dark the restaurant truly is until you mentioned it, so, yes, proper lighting would make it a more welcoming and family-friendly environment. I also thought going back to the original slogans was a neat idea. Instilling family values and catering to the needs of a large customer base were two well thought out ideas of where to innovate. If these changes were made, I’m sure I would keep going back to Applebee’s. Great post!


  7. Good lord. What a comment thread!

    Certainly, having “one of each” food style or genre makes Applebee’s attractive while also constraining the supply-side/supply-chain to super-reliability over all else.

    However, restaurants like ,a href=””>Tupelo Honey are able to franchise and scale with more local supply chains. or, of course, Chipotle.

    At the same time, given how sophisticated we can get in other sectors with real time logistics and data usage, why can’t that be applied to Applebee’s?

    Finally, maybe different ambiences in different rooms would help. One kind for family groups, another (dark lighting) for dates…


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