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The History of Applebee’s

Applebee’s was founded by husband-and-wife team Bill and TJ Palmer in 1980 when they opened the first location in Atlanta, Georgia. They picked the name by flipping through a phone book and landing on Appleby. However, when they learned that the name had recently been copyrighted, they changed the spelling to “Applebee’s” instead. That first location was actually called T.J. Applebee's Rx for Edibles & Elixirs and was decorated as an old-time drugstore. In 1983, the couple had a falling out and sold their restaurant concept to W.R. Grace and Company. In 1986, the name was changed to Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar. In 1989, Applebee’s began allowing franchise locations to open. Early on, the chain focused on becoming a “neighborhood” restaurant and built its brand around that concept. Franchisees were even allowed to hand-pick some menu items to cater to local tastes! They were also encouraged to decorate with some unique items to appeal to locals. By the end of the 1980s, there were 100 Applebee’s locations. In 1994, there were 500, and by 1998, Applebee’s had 1,000 different locations. In 2007, Applebee’s was purchased by IHOP Corp. By 2018, there were 1,624 locations in the U.S. as well as over 100 international locations! Although the quality of some of the food items has been called into question at times, the chain is especially well-known for its affordable deals on entrees and appetizers during its “happy hours” each week as well as drink specials like the famous Dollarita, a $1 margarita that the restaurant introduced in 2017. Today, Applebee’s remains a steady presence all across the country and is often located in parking lots near malls and hotels.

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