Applebee's Is Testing 200+ New Menu Items

In the face of significant restaurant closures and a drop in sales, Applebee's is taking a hard look at its menu as it works to reverse its fortunes.

Dine Brands, Applebee's parent company, released its earnings report for the third quarter of 2023 earlier this month. Even though Applebee's average weekly sales during the quarter were even higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, the chain's same-store sales declined by 2.4%.

This decline in sales is only the latest hurdle for Applebee's in 2023. The chain revealed in March that it expected to end the year with 10 to 20 fewer restaurants than it started with. 

Then in August, Applebee's raised its net closure estimate to 25 to 35  restaurants as it works to shutter underperforming locations and get back on track. Fortunately, Applebee's has a multi-pronged plan to get back on track—and part of that plan revolves around its menu. 

Dine Brands CEO John Peyton revealed during the company's third-quarter earnings call that Applebee's has tested more than 200 new menu items in the past five months. Menu updates should be rolling out sometime next year, though Dine Brands executives didn't provide an exact schedule.

While the company didn't give away too much about these upcoming menu changes, Dine Brands executives did provide a couple of hints on what fans can expect.

For starters, Peyton said that the 200 items that Applebee's has been testing include different types of cuisines, innovative spins on classic menu items, and new beverages that are already "generating positive anticipation" among Applebee's franchisees ahead of their 2024 launch.

Additionally, Moralejo mentioned that Applebee's is focused on innovating the "culinary side" of its menu and creating more value offerings like its fan-favorite Dollarita and all-you-can-eat boneless wings promotion. 

So customers will remain in the dark for now on specific updates or new items hitting the Applebee's menu. But with 2024 now less than two months away, fans can soon start keeping an eye out for some exciting changes at the sit-down chain.

Customers can also look forward to seeing Applebee's remodel many of its more outdated restaurants in 2024 in a bid to improve the overall customer experience.

"These are all work streams that currently are being addressed in parallel, but you'll see them come to fruition over time over the course of the next year," Moralejo said.