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Applebee's Plans to Shutter Dozens of Restaurants This Year—Here's Why

The chain closed dozens of locations in 2023, and it expects to shrink even more in 2024.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

Applebee's fans in some parts of the country will have to find a new go-to spot for burgers and shareable appetizers as the chain plans to shutter dozens of restaurants in 2024.

Applebee's parent company Dine Brands announced during a Feb. 28 earnings call that they expect to see between 25 to 35 net restaurant closures in 2024. The reason? According to Applebee's President Tony Moralejo, many of the restaurants they decide to close are located in trade areas where they're struggling to perform. He added that shuttering a restaurant is "an incredibly difficult decision" and a "last resort" for the company and its franchisees.

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This year's planned closures will continue a trend that has seen Applebee's shrink significantly in recent years. The chain has shuttered hundreds of locations since 2017 in an effort to weed out underperforming restaurants.

While Applebee's had planned for 2023 to be the year it started growing again following these mass closures, that didn't end up coming to fruition. It ended the year with 36 fewer restaurants than it had at the start, per Restaurant Business Magazine.

applebee's exterior

The newly announced closure plans mean that Applebee's also won't be able to return to expansion mode in 2024. However, Dine Brands President and CEO John Peyton stressed during the earnings call that getting Applebee's back to net unit growth is still a major priority.

One of the ways it hopes to achieve that is by creating a new restaurant prototype that can reward its franchisees with a stronger return on investment (ROI). While Dine Brands didn't reveal many details on what the new prototype will entail, Peyton told Nation's Restaurant News in a recent interview that they plan to debut the new restaurants in 2025 "and beyond."

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Dine Brands also created a new chief development officer role in January to help support growth for Applebee's and its sister brands—IHOP and Fuzzy's Taco Shop. The company promoted its international president, Scott Gladstone, to the position.

"We are positioning Dine Brands to take advantage of and aggressively pursue growth opportunities across each of our brands," Peyton said in a statement at the time. "Scott's leadership, together with a realignment of and incremental addition to internal resources, expanded capabilities, and targeted investments, will allow Dine to prioritize development as the key growth driver for near and long-term growth."

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe