Was This The American Dream?
Bill and I were two ordinary people with really no plan except to survive. I had big thoughts when I registered our name nationally but those were diminished when Bill told me he wanted to sell. Neither could have done it with out the other. Thanks to our partners and the use of their property, we obtained a loan to create a restaurant. Thanks to the Small Business Association and their loan we were allowed to share our concept with a public that responded favorably. Thanks to the dedication of all employees, especially the hourly employees, we were successful. There is no way we could have been without them. And thank you to the people of Atlanta for making Applebee's your favorite place. Lucky for you (and me), Peter Grace and his company and later John Hamra and Abe Gustin with Applebee's International (consisting of dozens of Franchisees) brought an Applebee's to your home town somewhere in the United States. What else could be as American as Applebee's?
Is it "a mans' world"? I have never been a person interested in the corporate world and I really didn't want a degree in golf. I was always a workaholic when it came to our companies. I stayed behind to work when ever there was a corporate function to attend. After all, I had no other employees in my office until our ninth location opened. I was a mother with a young child in school. I always thought Bill was representing both of us when he was out in the public eye. At least that's what he conveyed to me. It has been my experience that when you divorce a person, the corporate world divorces you, too. I am no longer with our Applebee's franchise. On November 19, 1998, exactly eighteen years from the date of opening our first location, Bill and I parted ways and he agreed to buy my 50% ownership of our companies. Even though I was a Franchisee ('90-'98) and I am a "Founder", Applebee's International has not corresponded with me since our divorce. I'm glad I got out when I did. It is not the concept that we started back in 1980. I guess I just grew up and got older. It just doesn't appeal to me any more. Old bones need more comfortable seating and a quiet atmosphere. This Boomer is retired!
I enjoyed these years of challenges with our concept. I have experienced restaurant life and how to have fun with the people that surround you at the same time. I have experienced hiring and firing, tolerating the intolerable, finding good in all people even though it may seem impossible. For every bad egg there are 25 little chicks waiting to be held and develop into these beautiful swans before your eyes. And I'm referring to the special employees I've known: the young people who have worked in our locations while becoming adults. They come to you as babies, go off to school, get married, experience birth, death, have children, get divorced. It has been a wonderful family experience. They became my family. I did enjoy all aspects of accounting, insurance, government forms, licenses, taxes, laws, but not like I have enjoyed knowing the world of employees that made Applebee's. Thank you for sharing yourselves, your lives with me.
I have many stories of life in a "mans" world. If you have worked for us in the Atlanta area and remember us in the beginning, send an email. I'd like, no, I'd love to hear about where you are in life today and if Applebee's has left you with any memories to share.
I want to thank these people: Arlita Springer, Mary Camburn, Carrie Maxwell Dickinson, Syble Reynolds, Nancy Jeffers, and John Friedel. This was my team, my family. I was blessed with their presence and that was a gift from God. Our paths will cross again. Special thanks to my parents, whose life I missed due to this child "Applebee's", for giving me the knowledge, courage, and strength to tackle life and for standing behind me all the way.
Next episode: Becoming Franchisees, Cafe Ventures, Inc., Apple Restaurants, Inc., Apple Restaurants Management Co., Inc. (changed to Applerio Mgmt Co, Inc. and change again to Apple Creek USA Management Co.) and Life with Bill....Inc.