Will Applebee’s and IHOP Survive the Nation’s Chain Restaurant Crunch?

Joel Eisenberg

Dine Brands owns the perennial food chains, both of which have been permanently shuttering substantial numbers of locations in recent years.

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Applebee’sAdobe Stock

Author’s Note

This article is free of opinion and bias, and is based solely on national statistics and accredited media reports. All listed facts within this article are fully-attributed to public record and media outlets, including EatThis.com (Mura Dominko), RestaurantBusinessOnline.com, RestaurantClicks.com (Erin B.), Investors.DineBrands.com, Mashed.com (Dan Seitz), and Nation’s Restaurant News (Lisa Jennings).

Introduction

In a November, 2021 article by Mura Dominko for EatThis.com, entitled “After Closing Hundreds of Locations In Recent Years, These Dine-In Chains Are Growing Again,” the author offers a comprehensive overview of the state of two of our most popular chain restaurants.

See here for article, which states: Chances are good that this image (see below) of an abandoned Applebee's is something you've recently seen in your own neighborhood. In October of 2020, major restaurant operator Dine Brands alerted its investors that it was conducting a financial review of its two major brands, IHOP and Applebee's, and as a result, was expecting to close as many as 99 restaurants across both brands in the following six months. The announcement came as both brands already shuttered dozens of restaurants during the pandemic. But it was also a bigger strategy on the part of Dine Brands—the operator was pruning underperforming locations to make room for more constructive growth.

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Abandoned Applebee’sShutterstock

In February of 2022, writer Erin B. of RestaurantClicks.com, in her piece entitled “The Truth Behind Rumors of Applebee’s Closing,” elaborated on the matter: Requisitioned by IHOP in 2016, Applebee’s has generally declined in sales since changing parent companies. In 2021, parent company Dine Brands reported a multi-million dollar loss in income for the 2020 fiscal year. They experienced a 4.3% decrease in total restaurants in 2020 and a 35% decrease in total profits.

Let us explore today’s status.

Dine Brands Plans For 2022

In November of 2007, Dine Brands, which when sharing the name of its restaurant was formerly known as IHOP, purchased the Applebee‘s restaurant chain. Further information can be found on the company’s investor website here. This investor website also contains a rare glimpse of a publicly available investor’s annual report, in this case for Dine Brands’ fiscal year 2020, which can be seen here.

According to a 12/21 Dan Seitz updated article on Mashed.com, titled “The Real Reason Why IHOP is Disappearing Across the Country,” the writer blames several logistics issues (unfavorable menu items and a flawed delivery service, as examples) and battles for a shrinking consumer base as large parts of the IHOP’s woes, and Applebee’s by extension.

Seitz goes on to state, elaborating on the company’s ownership: IHOP is owned by Dine Brands, which owns another major chain as well: Applebee's. Applebee's was bought up in 2007 as an attempt to pick up a bit more grown-up dining traffic, and most of Dine Brands' problems lately have been thanks on the riblet-slinging chain. Just the latest example: One of Applebee's biggest franchisees has gone to war with Dine Brands in court to keep its restaurants during bankruptcy. Problems like that are taking away a lot of time and attention from the parent company —typically of a problematic little sibling. And that's only part of the story.

Though both restaurants have seen their struggles, Dine Brands, per the company’s investor site, continues to paint a more optimistic picture of future business.

Conclusion

Like so many popular chain restaurants, both service issues and the pandemic have substantially impacted the businesses of both Applebee’s and IHOP. Though the latter restaurant has closed more locations in the current decade than has the former, as Dine Brands runs both companies ultimately the practicality of continuing the two businesses will be at the behest of the same entity.

For now, a degree of restructuring and re-strategizing are the steps being taken to keep afloat the struggling but perennial chain restaurants.

In November of 2021, Sun Holdings, Inc., one of the nation’s largest restaurant franchise companies (with holdings in Arby's, Burger King, Papa John's, and Popeyes, among others), announced they had purchased 131 Applebees franchise units after acquiring 41 IHOPs the prior year. See Lisa Jenning’s article from Nation’s Restaurant News, here.

Good news? Time will tell. All that is certain is the chain restaurant business will continue to evolve, as ever, in the present year.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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