Despite recent “reset” efforts such as upgraded technology and a focus on “real” food, same-store sales at Applebee’s continued to slip during the most recent quarter, falling 3.7 percent year over year.
The Q1 dip was the chain’s most significant in recent quarters, following a 2.5 percent slide in Q4 and a 0.5 percent drop in Q3 of last year.
“Clearly, the results are not where we want them to be and reflect the challenges we’re seeing in casual dining and issues specific to Applebee’s,” Julia Stewart, CEO of parent company DineEquity, told analysts Thursday.
The chain will stick with its current turnaround strategy to “change the story” of the brand, Stewart said, focusing on the areas of operational improvement, accelerated development, optimization of guest-enabling tech and brand reinvention.
She hinted that “the most transformative platform launch in the brand’s history” will be aired in the next few weeks.
In line with its technology endeavors, Applebee’s last month debuted a new app giving customers the ability to track orders and access food allergen-related information.
Steward told one analyst that she believes casual dining’s struggles are due, in part, to a "sea of sameness," or consumers’ perception that all casual concepts bring the same things to the table.
In an effort to streamline corporate functions of its two brands, DineEquity recently relocated Applebee’s Missouri headquarters to its home turf in California.