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Applebee’s franchisees make exec changes

Photograph: Shutterstock

Applebee’s two largest franchisees both announced changes Thursday to their executive teams.

The second largest operator, 135-unit RMH Franchise Corp., promoted CFO Mitch Blocher to the additional post of president. The appointment comes at a pivotal time for the operation, which is owned by private-equity firm ACON Investments. RMH filed for bankruptcy protection last year, triggering a court battle with franchisor Dine Brands Global over control of the franchisee’s stores. A court eventually decided in RMH’s favor.

 "Mitch's leadership has been instrumental as RMH weathered difficult times in 2018," Daniel Jinich, managing partner with ACON, said in a statement. "2018 was a challenging year for RMH, but the company achieved excellent results and emerged from bankruptcy with a stronger balance sheet and a healthier footprint of restaurants."

Blocher joined RMH in January 2018, a few months before the bankruptcy. Previously, he held a variety of financial positions for Focus Brands, including for its Auntie Anne’s Pretzels holding and Church’s Chicken.

Simultaneously, Applebee’s largest franchisee, 458-unit Apple American Group, a holding of Flynn Restaurant Group, announced four executive changes yesterday within its operations department.  

Promoted to VP of operations for Apple American is Tim Flatley, formerly a market president, the person with overall responsibility for Flynn holdings in a particular geographic region. He succeeds Mike Herbert, who is retiring after 24 years with Flynn.

Flatley will oversee Applebee’s units in Flynn’s Southern, mid-California and mountain regions. 

His former responsibilities have been assigned to Brad Miller, who will serve as a multiregion director of operations. 

Also appointed VP of operations is Aaron Kirkman, formerly market president. His scope of responsibilities will include operations for Apple American-managed Applebee’s units in Northern California, Indiana, Las Vegas and New Mexico.

He succeeds Gary Koch, who is retiring after 30 years with the company.

Carl Wilson will pick up Kirkman’s duties, serving as a multiregion director of operations.

The changes come as Applebee’s solidifies its turnaround and begins growing again. Same-store sales for the brand rose 3.5% for the fourth quarter of 2018.

Dine Brands Global is also the franchisor of IHOP.

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