Applebee’s John Cywinski on the future of casual dining

A Deeper Dive: The president of Applebee’s joins the Restaurant Business podcast to discuss the chain’s ability to keep its takeout business even as customers return to dine-in.

What is the future of casual dining?

This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive features John Cywinski, the president of the casual-dining brand Applebee’s, to discuss that very topic.

Bar and grill chains like Applebee’s had generally struggled since the Great Recession. And then the pandemic forced them to figure out takeout and delivery, and many of them did.

But the pandemic culled supply of dine-in restaurants and those concepts that made it through that era have seen a strong recovery in dine-in traffic as consumers unleashed pent-up demand. Applebee’s is coming off a particularly strong quarter, featuring the best three-year same-store sales in its history.

Cywinski talks about all of that. He discusses the future of takeout in the full-service space and where takeout and delivery stand with the company. He also talks about the company’s franchising strategy and how it affects the management of the chain. And Cywinski talks about the status of Applebee’s virtual brands.

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