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Destination: Club Applebee’s

Club Applebee's is the restaurant's plan to try and encourage younger patrons to bring back their business.
Club Applebee's is the restaurant's plan to try and encourage younger patrons to bring back their business.

Strobe lights, karaoke and DJs spinning beats are probably not the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Applebee's. Usually, the restaurant is bundled in the category of family-friendly establishments like Chili's and Ruby Tuesdays.

However, young twenty and thirty-somethings are flocking to Applebee's for late night fun, changing the image of the eatery.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported on the makeover of the well-known, family-centered restaurant chain. For the last few years, a slow overhaul has been taking place, with the changes becoming official last week. Late Night at Applebee's – referred to as Club Applebee's in some locations – plans to keep the party going until 2 a.m.

Becky Johnson, a senior vice president at Applebee's, told the news source that her company found out that younger generations often referred to restaurant locations as "the bees." While it's a destination they go to for meals with co-workers after the daily grind, customers migrate to actual bars on nights and weekends.

"The bee's is an overt invitation to them," Johnson said. "We want them back."

In 2009, franchise owners approached Applebee's parent company, DineEquity. According to the article, the restaurant heads described their observations that young adults tended to dine late. In order to keep profits high during the recession, owners suggested that Applebee's keep its doors open later than the 10 p.m. time of most family-friendly restaurants.

When organizations encounter financial hardship, sometimes it's necessary to make a slight adjustment to the overt public image. Working with a business continuity consultant can ensure that the proper tweaks are made so that customers still recognize the company but are interested in trying something new.