Applebee’s focus on comfort food made last year its best since 1993.
The company’s sales at US stores open at least a year grew 5% in 2018, a “milestone,” Applebee’s president John Cywinski said Thursday.
“We’ve got a brand with a history that people love and we’ve returned to its roots, which is what people wanted us to do,” said Stephen Joyce, CEO of Dine Brands (DIN), which owns Applebee’s.
“Eatin’ Good drives our strategy,” Cywinski said on a call with analysts. He added that last year, Applebee’s achieved success similar to its “heyday,” and he said that customers got “a terrific 1 hour, 1.5-hour experience.” Applebee’s reached an all-time high on its overall guest satisfaction scores last year.
Cywinski became president of the brand in March 2017, and has turned around the fast-casual restaurant chain by focusing on Applebee’s as a place for inexpensive indulgence.
“Americans are stressed,” Cywinski told CNN Business in November. “When stressed, they tend to go to comfort food … and we’re pretty darn good at comfort food,” he said at the time.