With over 2,000 outlets around the globe, Applebee’s is no longer unheard of for countless Filipinos who travel abroad. But while this mobile market may have their expectations on what the bar and grill concept will offer now that it has arrived in these shores, the local franchisers of the globally popular food brand still believe that it will “disrupt” the booming dining scene in Metro Manila.
To be clear, this is a positive outlook from Global Restaurant Concepts Inc. president and chief executive officer Archie Rodriguez. He said so when he led Applebee’s press preview, which included The Manila Times, days before its very first Philippine branch officially opened at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
“We want to be disruptive,” Rodriguez reiterated. “We want to make sure that people notice that we are much cheaper than anybody else [but]with better quality. This is our objective—to offer good quality at reasonable prices.”
To prove his point, he estimated that one diner might already enjoy Applebee’s signature dishes—including its sumptuous ribs, steaks and burgers, a variety of unique appetizers, and mouthwatering desserts—with just a budget of P350 to P500.
Echoing Rodriguez was Connie Mann, International Openings and Training manager of DineEquity, Applebee’s mother company in the US.
In a separate interview with The Manila Times, she said, “I’ve visited some of the competing brands here, and it seems that people in the Philippines like American flavors. But while our food is similar to the competitors’, I think that our quality is so much better in both taste and visual standpoints. The moment the food comes out, it’s very appealing. And upon tasting, it’s very satisfying.”
Among the restaurant’s favorites are the Quesadilla Burger with Applebee’s signature Mexican ranch and cheddar quesadilla; pork ribs with a choice of honey BBQ, smoky chipotle, spicy sweet Asian chili, and Korean BBQ sauces; and the Wanton Taco, spicy chicken-stuffed wonton shells for appetizer. For dessert, don’t miss out on the Churros S’mores featuring—especially for the Philippine market—a chocolate dip made from Davao’s Malagos cacao.
Besides the food, Mann also made sure to remind that Applebee’s is also a bar. She shared, “We also feel that our bar is the best in industry. Our sangrias and margaritas are made from scratch and are made to order. That is an advantage because many restaurants make those in batches in large containers. We make it per glass.
“So anything you are looking for, you’ll be able to find in Applebee’s. If you want sweet, we have great desserts. If you want savory, we’ve got the ribs and steaks. If you want spicy, we have a little bit of spice to appetizers,” Mann confidently invited.
What’s even more appealing, according to Rodriguez, is that a serving of the dishes is good for sharing and perfect for large groups or families.
Brining Applebee’s to Philippines
Asked why they decided to go into business in the Philippines, Mann revealed that it was all because of GRCI. She explained, “When we did market research, we saw that ours is a brand that appealed to Filipinos. We needed to have a franchise partner that is successful and is good to work with so we went to Archie first. In return, he was excited to add our brand to his portfolio.”
For his part, Rodriguez said, “I’m actually surprised by the reception we’ve had for Applebee’s even in the lead up to its opening. We’ve had inquiries online and even from passers by as to when we were opening our doors. Because of that, we knew the brand would be successful.”
GRCI is also the franchiser of IHOP, Applebee’s sister company under DineEquity Inc. of Glendale, California. DineEquity is one of the largest dining companies in the world with 3,600 combined restaurants present in 18 countries.
Mann also informed The Manila Times that Applebee’s is steadily entering the Asia Pacific market via Indonesia and Guam. In the Philippines alone, two more Applebee’s are in the works besides the one operating in BGC. A second branch will open later this year at Eastwood City in Libis, QC, while the location of the third is still undetermined.
“People in the Asia Pacific region—whether they’ve been to the US or not—know about American brands especially with this generation of social media,” Mann observed.
Asked what Filipinos—both first-timers and familiar ones—should expect from Applebee’s, Mann answered, “I think Filipinos can expect a great environment—very welcoming—and a place to celebrate with friends and families every occasion that is important in their lives.”
Rounding up, Rodriguez said, “Filipinos nowadays don’t go out just to eat. When they eat, they also want to have a good time and they will get that for sure at Applebee’s.”