Applebee's: all quiet on the luncheon front
It wasn't that I'd never been to an Applebee's before. I had, dozens of times, the visits usually consisting of me getting off work at a neighboring chain restaurant; ordering the biggest, medium-rare Bourbon Street steak with all the trimmings and several shakers of Applebee's "Perfect Patron" margaritas with extra olives and limes, then proceeding to enjoy my evenings in a delicious haze of steak -- and Patron Silver.
Being at an Applebee's (specifically the one at 410 South Colorado Boulevard) during daylight hours was an eye-opening experience for a service-industry vampire.
The first thing I noticed was that an Applebee's looks different in the daylight. I saw tables other than the high-tops at the bar, and the '90s top-forty hits were now nostalgic rather than contemporary. There were also items on the menu other than beef and booze.
J. Wohletz The grilled chicken wonton tacos.
Applebee's got its start as T.J. Applebee's Rx for Edibles & Elixirs in Decatur, Georgia, in 1980. Owners Bill and T. J. Palmer -- who were apparently going for an apothecarian feel to their restaurant and bar -- opened a second location, then sold their company to W.R. Grace and Company, with Bill Palmer staying on to preside over the Applebee's subsidiary, eventually becoming its biggest franchisee. The name was changed to its current form in 1986 -- a good idea -- and in 1988 franchisees Abe Gustin and John Hamra bought the rights to Applebee's from W. R. Grace, forming Applebee's International Inc. In 2007 there was a merger with IHOP Corp. (yup, the pancake folks), forming DineEquity Inc.
The Applebee's story sounds a bit like a bible passage about someone begetting someone else, who then begat another someone. And I can say that I have begotten many a night of festive revelry at Applebee's with bar trivia fueled by alcohol and fellow service-industry employee bonhomie.
J. Wohletz The fiesta chicken chopped salad.
But not today.
The service during lunch hours at this outpost in Glendale, where many recent Applebee's innovations have been introduced, was excellent: My iced tea and coffee didn't run dry; the other diners were few, far between and rather less raucous than I remember; and the lunch specials seemed a good bargain at $6.99 for a "Pick 'N Pair" dual choice of soup, salad, pasta and half-sandwiches.
I ordered French onion soup with a half Classic Clubhouse Grille sandwich, as well as lemon shrimp fettuccine with a fiesta chicken chopped salad. And for good measure, I also tried the grilled chicken wonton tacos appetizer (which is new) and the maple butter pecan blondie for dessert (an old favorite).