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Sneak peek at Applebee’s Q3 sales: 7.7% jump in comps

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Applebee’s domestic same-store sales rose 7.7% year over year for the third quarter, parent company Dine Brands Global revealed today in a release of preliminary results one week before the officially scheduled date. 

Sales results for Dine Brands’ other restaurant holding, the IHOP family restaurant chain, were not released. Dine Brands said it released the information on Applebee’s today because a symposium for Applebee’s lenders is scheduled to be held tomorrow.

The jump in Applebee’s comps is the casual-dining leader’s biggest quarterly gain in more than a decade. Coming after a 5.7% domestic rise in comps for Q2, the fresh results reinforce Dine Brands’ claim that a turnaround of the 1,900-unit chain is well underway.

The comeback programis intended to win back consumers who abandoned the brand after a disastrous upmarket shift that aimed to reposition Applebee’s as a steakhouse. Key parts of the effort have included a resurrection of such onetime signature products as Riblets, Applebee’s unique version of ribs, and dollar cocktails such as the Strawberry Dollarita.

More recently, the grill and bar concept borrowed two key lures from Olive Garden in a promotion of pastas and breadsticks. 

The chain has also put an emphasis on off-premise business. One of its most recent promotions, for instance, is an offer for free delivery on Monday nights through most of the football season. 

Dine Brands said it expects to close as many as 90 Applebee’s units this year as part of the turnaround. It did not reveal how many of that target number were closed during Q3.

The results released today were unaudited. Dine Brands’ full financial report for the quarter is scheduled for Oct. 31.  

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