Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood Applebee's
The first Applebee’s opened in 1980 in Atlanta, Georgia as T.J. Applebee’s Edibles & Elixirs, a neighborhood bar and restaurant. “I had five partners, mortgaged my house and borrowed $50,000 to open the first restaurant”, said Bill Palmer, the founder of the Applebee’s concept, who together with his investors watched their dream become a reality. Palmer sold the Applebee’s concept to W.R. Grace in 1983 but remained one of the company’s most active franchisees.
Applebee’s quickly made a name for itself in the restaurant industry thanks to the resolve of Gustin. He believed he could aggressively franchise a casual dining restaurant, a restaurant that offers table service and a full bar. At the time, only fast food franchising was predominant.
Applebee’s pioneered casual dining’s use of smaller restaurant facilities and more recently created a prototype casual dining restaurant for use in smaller communities with populations of 25,000. Applebee’s also led the implementation of market penetration strategies in the casual dining segment, creating a presence in a specific area, and then filling in the market afterward.
Applebee’s localizes each restaurant to reflect the neighborhood in which it operates. Each restaurant’s décor reflects local hometown heroes ranging from local athletes and celebrities to firefighters and other notables. The menu offers a wide range of choices from appetizers and salads to steak, chicken and ribs.