Why I Won’t Be in Applebee’s Neighborhood

We went to lunch with my folks yesterday and made the mistake of patronizing the local Applebee’s.  This is what the chain says on their web site:

Applebee’s is the largest casual dining chain in the world, with locations throughout the U.S. and many countries worldwide. We take pride in having a friendly, welcoming, neighborhood environment for both our staff and guests that makes everyone enjoy their Applebee’s experience.

While I have no doubt they’re the largest, we “enjoyed” our Applebee’s experience about as much as we would a root canal.I did some checking around the web (hey – did you know your massive fails don’t stay private much any more?) and this is a common Applebee’s experience.  Right from the start, the sweet tea came unsweetened and took 10 minutes to show up.   When ordering the “chicken fried steak” printed on the menu, we were told “we don’t sell chicken fried steak.”  No tomato soup available even though it was on the menu as well.  Of course, we didn’t find that out until we asked about the soup of the day and had to wait another 10 minutes for the server to return to tell us since she didn’t know the choices nor had she written them down.  The plain Caesar salad showed up with chicken on it and had to be replaced (vegetarians are picky like that).  All of this took a very long time for a not very crowded place.  In fact, the party seated behind us ended up bringing the manager over and, after receiving massive apologies due to the wrong food being delivered late, walking out without eating.  Or paying (the manager told them it was OK).  Not great for your profit margins or reputation.

A few questions.  What kind of training do the servers get?  How are the managers running their ships when clearly this is not an isolated incident (do the searches)?  Why aren’t menu items that are unavailable or discontinued not reported as such upfront?  Stickers cost a few cents each to cover things up in the menu.  It’s interesting to me that most of the complaints about Applebee’s I find on the web do NOT deal with the food – they’re almost all service related.  That’s training and supervision, people, not untalented cooks.

My folks live about 3 minutes from this place – they won’t be back.  There are lots of other dining options with less-interesting menus but efficient service.  Any of this apply to how your business deals with customers?

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1 Comment

Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?, Reality checks

One response to “Why I Won’t Be in Applebee’s Neighborhood

  1. I used to work at an Applebee’s, and I think the problem is that by and large, it attracts two types of people to work there. There are students or temporarily unemployed people–people who have goals of getting out of the service industry, people who are there in the interim. The other type waited on you the other day: people that, for whatever reason, can basically be classified as losers. It’s rare for someone with a lot of restaurant experience to be working at a place like that–we tend to move on to less corporate, less highly regimented places. It’s basically Restaurant Work For Dummies there, and so dummies are often what they get.

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