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.)
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.
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!)
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.
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
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.
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.
Becoming Franchisees, Cafe Ventures, Inc., Apple Restaurants, Inc.,
Apple Restaurants Management Co., Inc. (now Applerio Mgmt Co, Inc.)
and Life with Bill....Inc.