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Operations

A dual-branded Applebee’s/IHOP comes to Dubai

It’s the first of five combo locations slated for the Middle East as co-branding continues its comeback.
A rendering shows a second Applebee's/IHOP opening in Dubai this year. / Courtesy of Dine Brands
A rendering shows a second Applebee's/IHOP opening in Dubai this year. / Courtesy of Dine Brands

Pancakes with a side of wings, anyone?

It’s now a possibility for diners in Dubai, where a Dine Brands franchisee this month opened a restaurant that contains both Applebee’s and IHOP.

“We saw this as a phenomenal opportunity to bring two of the world’s favorite restaurant brands together as one dual-brand location,” said Mohamed Makwai, CEO of franchisee Eagles Landing International Restaurants, in a statement.

The restaurant opened Jan. 21 in Dubai’s Festival City Mall and is the first of five slated for the Middle East. Eagles Landing will open another dual-branded restaurant in Dubai later this year. Another operator, Kout Food Group, has a deal to incorporate IHOP into existing Applebee’s stores in Kuwait. 

Dine has had success with a shared-kitchen, dual-branded restaurant in Canada as well as in ghost kitchens in the United Arab Emirates, said Scott Gladstone, Dine’s president, international and corporate development. 

“We believe dual-brand operations will capitalize on each brand’s unique strength and dayparts, resulting in strong margins and return on investment,” he said in a statement. 

There’s at least one dual-branded Applebee’s/IHOP in the U.S., in Detroit’s Millender Center transit station. It opened in 2017. 

The company did not respond to a question about whether franchisees might open more such locations in the U.S., where Applebee’s and IHOP have more than 3,000 restaurants combined. But it could make sense for the brands, which focus on different dayparts and cuisines.

They’ve been together since 2007, when IHOP acquired Applebee’s and formed what is today known as Dine Brands. Dine added a third brand, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, late last year.

Co-branding was common in the early 2000s, but operational and marketing challenges led to closures. The strategy has made a comeback in recent years, with brands such as Famous Dave’s parent BBQ Holdings and Auntie Anne’s owner Focus Brands experimenting with the idea. Ghost kitchens and virtual brands, meanwhile, have opened up new possibilities for housing multiple restaurants under one roof.

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