Majority stake in Applebee's franchisee sold

GLENDALE Calif. AppleGrove Restaurants, the second-largest franchisee of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, has been acquired by a Poland-based group that operates more than 270 restaurants in seven countries, officials said Monday. Terms were not disclosed.

AppleGrove, based in Atlanta, which operates more than 100 Applebee’s locations in eight states, sold an 80-percent stake to a subsidiary of AmRest Holdings N.V., based in Wroclaw, Poland.

Initially established as a joint venture of American Retail Concepts and Yum! Brands Inc., AmRest operates a number of brands in Central and Eastern Europe, including KFC, Burger King, Starbucks and Pizza Hut, as well as the proprietary brands Rodeo Drive and freshpoint.

AppleGrove founder Steve Grove, who was the Applebee's franchisee of the year in 2003 and 2006, remains a minority owner.

“AppleGrove’s growth strategies and operating principles of our company were very similar to that of AmRest,” Grove said. “We strongly believe this transaction will jointly enhance our abilities to reach our business potential and further strengthen the Applebee’s brand.”

The Applebee’s brand is owned by DineEquity Inc., based in Glendale, Calif., which operates or franchises 1,993 Applebee’s locations in 49 states, 17 countries and one U.S. territory.