Say goodbye to your favorite rack of ribs and stack of pancakes (from the ’90s): A large number of Applebee’s and IHOP restaurants are closing in 2018. On February 20th, Applebee’s announced that it anticipated closing 60 to 80 locations this year. Its sister brand, IHOP, is expected to close 30 to 40 locations.
Though some of us might fondly remember these restaurants as the go-to places of our youth, and the type of restaurants everyone in the family could agree on, it seems that millennials aren’t really into the franchises as adults. Trying to win over millennials — a strategy that ultimately failed — is one of the reasons why Applebee’s has been struggling.
In a call with investors last year, John Cywinski, Applebee’s brand president, said that the company had spent the last couple of years trying to court a “more youthful and affluent demographic with a more independent or even sophisticated dining mindset, including a clear pendulum swing towards millennials.” But, he continued:
However, on Tuesday, the company said in a call to investors that Applebee’s is “wonderfully diverse from an age perspective with an equal percentage of millennials, Gen Xers, [and] boomers.” Indeed, the parent company of both restaurants says nearly 50% of diners at IHOP — and 45% of guests at Applebee’s — are under 34.
Let’s be real though: When was the last time you went to Applebee’s with your besties for a night on the town?
Yeah. Nothing really comes to mind.
Despite the restaurant closures (the locations of which have yet to be announced), both franchises are expected to open new locations in 2018. In Applebee’s case, the focus will be on new restaurants outside of the U.S., while IHOP will develop nearly 100 new restaurants within the U.S.
Phew. At least we’ll still be able to get a stack of delicious buttermilk pancakes, just like Kim and Kanye.