A recent topic of an “Ask Reddit” forum reads: “What restaurant have you sworn to never return to and why?” Because there are so many restaurants of dubious quality to choose from, one might expect to see an assortment of venues. Instead, the question prompted an absolute bloodbath against Applebee’s.
In recent months, the California-based chain has run dirt-cheap promotions on food and booze. Nonetheless, the company is underperforming. In August 2017, Applebee’s announced it would shutter as many as 135 of its locations before the year’s end, which brand president John Cywinkski blamed on millennials.
But Reddit blames Applebee’s itself. In a 4,940-comment thread, users reflected on unfortunate experiences with miserable customer service and subpar food.
“Went to Applebee’s and found a legit bee in my mashed potatoes. The waitress laughed and said, ‘Wonder if that’s how [Applebee’s] got the name.’ Then tried to accuse me of putting it in there and refused to get the manager,” CrazyWhoDatXLIV wrote.
“Applebees. Our server was snotty and rolled her eyes when we asked politely for silverware and napkins with our pasta. After she dropped off the check, she abandoned our table for over half an hour for a smoke break,” Ow1 said. “She was clearly visible through a window, just chatting and smoking with one of the cooks. She didn't get much of a tip from us, but we found out later that she gave herself a nice fat $25 tip on the card we paid with.”
Ryancleg said his waitress was so neglectful that while settling his bill, he left two pennies and a soggy straw wrapper “making a frowny face” as a tip.
In addition to poor service, ex-patrons condemned the restaurant’s food quality.
“I finally learned how to microwave my own food,” djheadphone wrote.
“An Applebee's waitress tried to convince me their ‘new recipe’ nachos didn't include cheese. When I requested cheese, I was given a plate with two melted cheese slices on it,” lolsalmon said. “Never again.”
“Applebee’s. I ordered a grilled chicken salad and the chicken was raw. It was still clucking. The manager came over and told me it was cooked. It was raw,” MonkeysFanny wrote. “They didn't even take it off the bill. Then the server gave herself a 30% tip I found out from the bank later. I called the Applebee’s and he offered me coupons.”
One of the few dissenting voices came from alexmunse, who really appreciates the chain’s cheap booze.
“I’m a 35-year-old father of two. When I want to go for a beer, I head to Applebee’s. No crowds, no loud music, no lines for beers or bathrooms. The food’s not great, but it’s cheap,” he opined. “If I could bring a recliner there, that would be my heaven.”
The restaurant chain asserts that the negative accounts don't do its service justice.
"At Applebee’s we are dedicated to offering each guest genuine, neighborly service," a representative told The Daily Meal via email. "The experiences described here do not meet Applebee’s service expectations, and are not representative of who we strive to be — a dependable and enjoyable neighborhood grill and bar. We welcome the opportunity to resolve any issues and encourage guest feedback round the clock by email through our website at applebees.com/contact-us or by phone at 888-592-7753. We want all of our guests to know that we are listening and take your feedback to heart as we work to improve the Applebee’s guest experience."
Despite Reddit's outpouring of grief over the chain, Applebee's is a nightly destination for millions of people all over the country who appreciate all-you-can-eat chicken tenders and $2 Blue Moons.
If you, like many others, also appreciate inexpensive eats, here are the cheapest ways to feed your family healthy food for seven nights a week.