Note: Bill Palmer became a Franchisee when we began Cafe Ventures, Inc. which owned five locations. TJ Palmer became a Franchisee when they began Apple Restaurants, Inc. in 1989. This company owned 22 locations in1998. Even though TJ Palmer was a 50% owner, she didn't start signing Franchise agreements with International until 1992. (You just don't ask questions. In late 1995, TJ had her assistant call to question why TJ wasn't listed as a franchisee in the directory published by Applebee's International and requested that she be listed under Apple Restaurants. A lot of little things like this went on. International took a statement I made, put it on a booklet, and said that Bill and I both said it. When asked why we stayed involved with Applebee's and I said because it was our child and we could never give it up. Bill said because he liked the franchisees.)

The Applebee's concept is definitely not as it began in 1980. It began as a meeting place with friends for drinks and then on to their destination. Today Applebee's is the destination place and it is more child friendly. Applebee's has become a well-respected family restaurant welcoming all age groups. The Applebee's menu is much more complex and diversified. The food is not made fresh every day like we did it but it is like all places today, prepackaged, ready to go. There are specials and new items added often including special menu items for children. Some items have become real favorites such as Applebee's Riblets. Let me tell you the story of the riblets.

In 1987 our first District Manager with Cafe Ventures, David Jarrett brought the now famous "Riblets" to our attention. He located enough to supply our four locations (existing at the time) and negotiated such a good price that we couldn't refuse. Unlike Quail, they are still on the menu today, nation wide. I believe he also came up with the name "riblets". Although Bill is given the credit by International as bringing these to Applebee's, let's set the record straight. He had no more to do with it than I did. I remember when Bill hired David, he told me he felt like he was interviewing himself. He was amazed. I don't think Bill will ever find another clone of himself like that. David did so much for our company. He eventually started his own restaurant. (I guess he got tired of making money for other people too!)

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. 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, 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 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 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. (now Applerio Mgmt Co, Inc.) and Life with Bill....Inc.

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