The Riblet is back at Applebee’s, albeit for a limited stretch.
The longtime Applebee’s signature—a short, flat pork cut trimmed from spare ribs—will be offered for an unspecified time chainwide, according to the franchisor. Its reappearance underscores the chain’s determination to recapture customers who abandoned the brand when it shifted upmarket and tried to recast itself as a steakhouse. Although Riblets enjoyed a cult following, they were replaced on the menu with Wood Fired Ribs, a pricier true pork rib.
The failed repositioning accelerated the chain’s sales slide and brought the resignation of Julia Stewart as CEO of Applebee’s parent company, DineEquity, also the franchisor of IHOP.
The Riblet will be offered as part of a limited-time, all-you-can-eat promotion. For $12.99, customers can get a 12-ounce initial serving of the rib tips, along with fries and a dipping sauce. For no extra charge, they can get as many additional 6-ounce servings as they desire.
The same deal is offered for Applebee’s chicken tenders. Customers can start with the tenders or Riblets, and then switch to the other protein for a second or subsequent helping.
“We’re giving guests what they want, which means hardy servings of Applebee’s famous Riblets or original breaded chicken tenders,” said Chris Dharod, president of the SSCP, the parent of the chain's 65-unit Texas franchise, Apple Texas.
The promotion also includes 10-ounce drafts of Blue Moon beer for $2 each.
The resurrection of Riblets isn’t the first time Applebee's has brought back something from its more prosperous days in hope of reinvigorating sales. Last year the chain cut the price of the margaritas to $1, a level that hadn’t been seen in decades, even as a promotion.