At first it seems that changing the décor will upset Applebee’s fans. It seems that at least a few customers will be disgruntled—nostalgia is a big draw when it comes to casual dining places, and people like going to the same places, complete with the same food, same service, and same look. It’s up to Applebee’s to smooth the change over, and to make the venture a worthwhile one. They will attract new customers, but they will need to be simultaneously careful and assertive to make sure the old ones keep coming back.
Yet, Applebee’s seems to be integrating that very notion of nostalgia into their design. By incorporating local schools and events, Applebee’s is weaving themselves into the surrounding communal culture. High school teams will be able to see themselves on Applebee’s walls, towns will see their own scenery echoed in Applebee’s murals. By focusing down, Applebee’s becomes an insider, a non-negotiable part of each community.
Now to see if reality reflects the plan.
Watch this: Applebee’s Mike Archer talk about design changes