An iconic American restaurant has announced it is closing a popular Kansas location after 30 years.
Applebee’s has served the community of Lawrence, 26 miles east of Topeka, for nearly three decades, but this week the location closed its doors forever.
Dine Brands Global, which owns Applebee’s, confirmed the Lawrence location is permanently closed Monday, but did not disclose the factors that led to the closure.
“Thank you for being our neighbor for the past nearly 30 years,” Applebee’s wrote on the closing sign above its window. “We enjoyed serving you here and invite you to join us at any of our other subway locations in KC.”
Although the company has not confirmed the reasons for the store’s closure, the site has faced a massive employee strike over the past year.
In March 2022, several employees left the restaurant entirely after a manager at the site leaked an email from a company executive who has since been fired.
In the email, the executive said inflation and high gas prices are good reasons to offer employees lower pay rates.
The email also said that losing stimulus funds was ultimately a good thing, as it would force people back into the restaurant business and make them more willing to accept lower wages, the Lawrence Times reported.
The controversial email also said that independent restaurants, aka Mom and Pops, would be the first to face closures, with long-term positive implications for chains like Applebee’s.
“Some companies will not be able to survive,” the executive wrote, according to the local newspaper. “The labor market will soon turn in our favor.”
After the email was released, Applebee’s was hit with negative media coverage and employees staged a widespread walkout.
The location finally closed about a year later.
Applebee’s only other location in Lawrence closed permanently in 2018.
APPLEBEE IS IN THE NEWS
Applebee’s has made media headlines over the past year for many reasons, and not all have been positive.
Shoppers were in an uproar after the classic grocery chain dropped its sweet and slightly spicy sriracha prawns from the appetizer menu.
Some customers are so nostalgic for the dish that they’re still asking Applebee’s to bring it back on Twitter.
“I loved Applbee’s Sriracha Shrimp so much,” one Twitter user wrote called.
“My taste buds exploded and the world went still and still! My fiancee spoke but I couldn’t hear him! Bring it back! Please!!!”
Even those who normally despised the chain said the shrimp was a sweet spot.
“If you ever have the displeasure of setting foot in an Applebee’s, their sriracha appetizer with fried shrimp is so good,” said one person tweeted.
Applebee’s was talked about for better news back in February, when a New Jersey franchisee gave kids a free meal at 36 locations.
The move came in response to controversy over another New Jersey restaurant, Netties House of Spaghetti, which banned children under the age of 10.
Accompanying adults had to purchase at least one appetizer to receive the child’s free meal, and the offer was only valid for a maximum of two children.
RESTAURANT CLOSED NATIONWIDE
Many restaurants have been forced to close as the industry faces significant changes due to the pandemic.
The coronavirus has caused many customers to stop ordering from restaurants altogether, and alongside this lower demand has been an increased shift towards takeout and delivery.
Loyalty programs and seamless ordering experiences became much more necessary than before.
At the same time, restaurants are struggling with lower demand due to inflation and increased costs for their own supply chain food products.
Shortage of staff was also a major reason why chains and corner shops say goodbye to their customers.
Overall, there are about 72,000 fewer restaurants in the US today than in 2019, Business Insider recently reported.
Olive Garden, one of Applebee’s main competitors, is closing a location in Maryland this spring.
Meanwhile, West Iron Eatery, a popular West Virginia restaurant, was forced to close because it couldn’t keep up with customer demand.
“We couldn’t go into the season without another line chef, we got knocked down so we had to make a separate decision. We’re still trying to take care of it! But thanks for the post!” The restaurant wrote online.
Even legendary fast-food giant Burger King recently announced that 26 locations would close in April, resulting in the layoff of about 400 employees.
A restaurant worker explained why she would never eat at Applebee’s, and the reason might shock you.