Huff Post Food • July 2, 2012
Everyone is allowed a small mid-life crisis — even the world’s largest casual dining chain. Applebee’s President Mike Archertold USA Today that he wants to create a “new generation of Applebee’s lovers.”
How are they doing it? The way Archer and the 32-year-old restaurant chain are going about that may surprise you with its simplicity:
The food. We’re focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients and improving flavor profiles. We’re signaling the change by revitalizing the stores. And we’re communicating the change with a campaign about the freshness and food quality.
In addition to a promise to rid their approximately 2,000 locations of the “stained glass light fixtures and 3D pop art synonymous with Applebee’s since its founding in 1980,” the the chain is also launching a brand new summer menu. Dishes like Seasonal Berry & Spinach Salad (featuring real-live strawberries) and Lemon Shrimp Fettucine (we promise we are not messing with you — this menu item’s description mentions gremolata) are apparently just the beginning of this transformation. Applebee’s Chef Melissa Haupt said in a press release, “Seasonal ingredients are the foundation of everything we prepare, and summer is the perfect time to introduce new ingredients like strawberries, blueberries, artichokes and asparagus to the Applebee’s menu.” Yes, you read that right, seasonal ingredients at Applebee’s.
Is this a response to a large shift in American attitudes about the food they eat? Or to, perhaps, Tracie McMillan’s excellent recounting of just how many things got microwaved at Applebee’s during her undercover time there for “The American Way of Eating”? Will it work? We suppose that only time and the wallets of Applebee’s customers will tell.
This new focus on fresh, affordable dishes comes (obviously) with a whole new ad campaign, including a switch from the iconic “Eating Good in the Neighborhood” slogan to “See You Tomorrow.” Is Applebee’s actually implying they would like us to come in every single day? Well, maybe. “It’s based on the proposition that because of the breadth and depth of our menu, we could see guests on an everyday basis,” said Archer.