On Tuesday, Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity, the parent company of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP revealed its new name – Dine Brands Global, Inc.
So, what’s in a name?
The operator, who will refer to itself as Dine Brands, has been trying to find its footing for the past few years and the new name “represents the fact that we're building a new company that was very different than were we were before,” said Stephen P. Joyce, CEO of Dine Brands, during an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News.
The “global” in the brand’s new name is no accident. “International is going to be a major part of our plan going forward,” Joyce said,
The company announced it would close 60 to 80 Applebee locations and 30 to 40 IHOP restaurants during its fourth-quarter earnings calls on Tuesday. But Applebee's franchisees are expected to develop 10 to 15 new restaurants worldwide, the majority of which will be international openings. And IHOP franchisees and its area licensee plan to develop 85 to 100 restaurants worldwide, the majority of which will be in the U.S.
According to Joyce, the Applebee’s brand appeals to overseas customers “because it is pure Americana and in spite of some of the issues we have with our current administration, people still love American brands.”
Joyce will call on his previous experience as the company expands globally. He came to the brand after years at Marriott and Choice Hotels where he led global growth. “We are very much using the same playbook,” he said.
Dine Brands also plans to expand the company portfolio by adding new restaurant brands. QSR and healthy fast-casual brands are particularly appealing, Joyce said. Expect at least one new brand by early next year. “We think we bring a lot of value to people who want to grow a concept,” he added.
Part of Joyce’s new approach will be a digital focus. Customers can expect to order takeout from their cars and pay from their phones after a meal at a Dine Brands restaurant soon. This technology “is already in the restaurant business, it just hasn't been in casual dining and family dining, so we think we're going to be leading that effort, I think, as we go forward.”
The menus at Applebee’s, though are going to back to basics. “We are returning to our roots to an extent,” said Joyce. “We are bringing back some crowd favorites that for whatever reason people decided we needed to move past.” Riblets will be on the menu permanently, for example.
Customers can also expect to see new healthy options and an Applebee’s spin on dishes like pasta on the menu. “Our menus need to appeal to the broad public, but we also need to make sure that we're fitting everybody's eating habits,” said Joyce.
“We have strong appeal, we think, to the entire country. We've got strong demographics. Everyone keeps talking about the death of casual dining and family dining. Half of our customers are under 34. So, we don't think we're going anywhere.”
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