Dine Brands is the parent company of both Applebee’s and IHOP. While both restaurants have seen strong growth, Applebee’s sales momentum has been a bit more noteworthy in the last year.
Cheap alcoholic beverages and dinner deals lured customers into Applebee’s restaurants during the third quarter and helped boost same-store sales 7.7 percent, John Cywinski, president of Applebee’s, told CNBC in November. That’s massive growth compared with the rest of the industry, which saw same-store sales rise 1.2 percent in the same period, according to Black Box Intelligence data.
In 2017, the company introduced $1 margaritas, dubbed “dollaritas,” in an effort to bring in younger diners, who tend to prefer limited-service chains such as Chipotle, Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell, where they can order and go.
Applebee’s now does a neighborhood drink special, a monthly drink promotion that ranges from $1 Zombie Drinks to $3 Grey Goose vodka and Ocean Spray cranberry juice. This January, the restaurant is introducing $2 Captain Morgan rum-and-Coke or other colas. Kalinowski foresees this promotion resonating even better with customers than last year’s $2 Blue Moon beer promotion.
“We asked management in general what types of its Applebee’s ‘Neighborhood Drink of the Month’ drink specials tend to do better than others,” Kalinowski reiterated Wednesday. “When we asked about the performance of mixed drinks versus beer specials, management indicated ‘everybody has cheap beer,’ hinting that — all else equal — it’s the mixed-drink specials that tend to do better.'”