What's Happening in the Neighborhood? National Restaurant Chain to Close 35 Locations Across the Country

If you're craving a Dollarita, you might need to travel further this year. Dine Brands Global, the parent company of Applebee's and IHOP, announced plans to close several Applebee's locations across the U.S. Applebee's President Tony Moralejo shared this news during a fourth-quarter earnings call on February 29.

Moralejo stated, "We’re expecting 25 to 35 net fewer domestic Applebee’s restaurants." However, he added that up to 25 new IHOP restaurants are slated to open this year. "With our new development strategy in place, we feel confident in our ability to continue to open new restaurants and scale the footprint of our brands over time."

Back in 2017, Applebee's shuttered over 100 restaurants nationwide. During the same earnings call, Dine Brands CFO Vance Yuwen Chang noted that the chain had 33 net domestic closures in 2023. In contrast, IHOP saw an expansion, opening 46 new locations last year, with 17 launching in the fourth quarter alone.

Moralejo clarified, "These closures aren’t a sign of struggling franchisees but of struggling trade areas." He assured, "Our leadership team is pulling every lever we have to offset the downside of closings."

Speaking to TODAY.com, Moralejo said, "Applebee’s is a mature brand, and it is natural to have closures with changing trade areas and franchisee agreement expiration." He mentioned that the closure rate of 1% — 2% is typical for a brand at this stage, noting Applebee's has over 1,500 locations nationwide.

"Our goal is to return to net unit growth in the coming years with a new value engineered prototype and a continued focus on increasing top line sales while improving our franchisees’ margins," Moralejo elaborated. He remains optimistic, highlighting a recent deal with the Flynn Group, their largest franchisee.

However, representatives for Applebee’s did not respond to TODAY.com’s inquiries about which specific locations will be closing.

Despite these closures, the emergence of more IHOP and Applebee’s hybrid locations suggests that boneless wings remain within easy reach for many.

A recent press release from May 8 noted a decline in Applebee's year-over-year domestic comparable same-restaurant sales by 4.6% for the first quarter of 2024. To-go orders made up 22.1% of total sales, slightly down from 23.1% in 2023.

I have confirmed that the Applebee's locations near me are safe. My occasional trip for all-you-can-eat shrimp, riblets and boneless wings is safe.