Applebee’s® Opens First Location in Hawaii, Bringing America’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar to All 50 States
- Ewa Beach Oahu location represents a milestone in the brand’s 36-year history
- New restaurant creates 136 local jobs and will raise funds for Make-A-Wish® Hawaii
(Honolulu, Hawaii/Glendale, California, September 8, 2016) Applebee’s Grill and Bar was established in suburban Atlanta in 1980, and has since grown to be one of America’s most popular restaurants, with over 2,000 locations in 49 states, two US territories (Guam and Puerto Rico) and 17 countries. However there has never been a location in Hawaii… until now!
On September 18, 2016, Applebee’s marks a milestone, when Hawaii — the last remaining state in the Union without an Applebee’s — will celebrate the opening of its first location in Ewa Beach on the ever-expanding west side of Oahu.
Adding to the excitement, a second Applebee’s location is already planned to open next year at the Ka Makana Alii Mall in Kapolei.
The new Applebee’s restaurant in Ewa Beach will feature the brand’s new American-made wood-fired grill menu, which includes certified USDA choice steaks and bone-in pork chops that are hand-cut in-house. As well as chicken, shrimp and salad entrees that benefit from the smokey fresh taste of food being grilled over American Oak wood.
Applebee’s will also bring the tradition of giving back to the community of Hawaii by sponsoring a month of fundraising activities for Make-A-Wish® Hawaii, which grants wishes for children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. Beginning in mid-September, the restaurant will offer the charity’s Make-A-Wish® “Stars” for purchase in the restaurant, which will contribute $1 from each sale of a designated Applebee’s menu item, among other fundraising activities. These events will culminate with a ceremony where a very special surprise will be revealed to a local wish child.
“For 36 years, Applebee’s has been the quintessential American neighborhood grill and bar, for guests all across the Unites States, and increasingly, around the world — with one exception, our great 50th State.”, said Daniel del Olmo, President of International, DineEquity Inc., the parent company of Applebee’s. “I am delighted that as of today, we can say “Aloha” to our friends and neighbors on Oahu and welcome them to the first Applebee’s in Hawaii.”
Sarah Espino, Chief Operating Officer of Union MAK Corporation, Daniel del Olmo, President, International of DineEquity, Inc (NYSE: DIN) and Vince Espino, President and owner of Union MAK Corporation, franchisee of both IHOP and Applebee’s Bar and Grill Hawaii ~ 9/7/16
This location is expected to bring 136 new jobs to the local economy. Applebee’s is now located at 91-1401 Fort Weaver Road, Ewa Beach, in the same mall where Longs Drugs and Foodland are. It seats approximately 128 guests and is open Sunday through Thursday from 11am to midnight, and on Friday and Saturday from 11am to 1am.
Press release courtesy of Craig Hoffman, DineEquity, Inc.
Yesterday on Wednesday, September 7th, Applebee’s Ewa Beach hosted a press preview luncheon and VIP dinner party ahead of the September 18th grand opening. On behalf of the Tasty Island, Yours Truly was invited and was humbly honored to attend the luncheon, which started at noon, and carried on again at 4pm, with VIP guests including local politicians and executives.
While I could have stayed for the evening VIP event, due to my schedule, I only attended the noon media luncheon, where I sat and had lunch personally with Applebee’s Ewa Beach owner and President, Vince Espino and his business partner Sarah Espino, along with DineEquity, Inc. President Daniel del Olmo, Siana Hunt, representing Hawaii’s Make-A-Wish foundation, Kahu Kelekona Bishaw of Kamehameha Schools who performed the Hawaiian blessing of the restaurant earlier that morning, and Craig Hoffman, also of DineEquity, Inc, the parent company of Applebee’s, as well as iHop here in Hawaii.
As for the press, to much surprise, other than myself, sitting next to me was a reporter from the Honolulu Star Advertiser (sorry, didn’t get her name), and that was it. On top of that, the reporter didn’t eat anything, but was only there for an interview. I was like, “OMG, don’t tell me I’m going to be the only outsider food critic here!” But yep, that’s pretty much what it came down to. Hey man, can’t complain, right? Yet the owners were happy to oblige! lol
Really though, it was more a press Q&A session than a menu-tasting, however they did bust out a pretty nice spread that covered the gist of their menu’s theme, which I’ll share in a follow-up post.
That said, my take from talking with Vince, Sarah and Daniel, the 3 top people behind this restaurant, is that they’re COMMUNITY-DRIVEN. They want to give back to the neighborhood of Ewa Beach and Oahu in general any way they can, starting of course with the Make-A-Wish drive in their first month of business.
The big question of course most folks who don’t live in Ewa Beach will ask is, “Why Ewa Beach? Why didn’t Applebee’s open first in the Ala Moana or Waikiki area?” And their simple answer to that is DEMOGRAPHIC. Ewa Beach has the perfect demo’ for their business model, which again, is community-driven. Ewa has the perfect balance of well-established locals, along with mainland transplants who are either retired or active duty military, whom are already familiar with the Applebee’s brand.
On top of that, they got a sweet deal for the lease of the space from the mall owners, being Applebee’s is a well-known, attractive brand, surely to bring high numbers to that mall, not just for the restaurant, but the surrounding businesses. So like Blockbuster was, Applebee’s will sort of serve as a third anchor tenant, alongside Longs and Foodland.
The owners also emphasized employing the local community, noting that a majority of this restaurant’s staff live in Ewa, or nearby, thus boosting morale within due to the convenience of working close to home.
As for the size and design of the restaurant, Daniel explained to me that a typical Applebee’s on the mainland range anywhere from about 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, with the larger restaurants about 5,000 square feet. The Applebee’s Ewa Beach is 3,500 square feet, putting them in the “sweet spot” from a business model perspective. This, based on over a year of market research they did before going forward with the project.
The design of the interior space is a departure from Applebee’s of the past, modeled somewhat on newer locations they’ve opened on the mainland. And I must say, it is GORGEOUS. Contemporary-meets-casual would be the best way I’d sum it up. It feels very inviting and warm, with ambient lighting that’s bright enough for them great Yelp shots of your dish, yet not so bright as to feel you’re in an institution, but more at home. The variety of seating options is also great, where I myself appreciate the privacy of booth seating they have to offer. While if you book a large party, they could certainly accommodate that as well.
We’ll close off this press release with a look around the new Applebee’s restaurant in Ewa Beach. Enjoy. ;-)
Siana Hunt gives a presentation on Make-A-Wish to the Applebee’s Ewa Beach team after their morning warm-up meeting; the gentleman to the left with the orchid lei is Nathan Hughes, the Brand & General Manager of the restaurant
Applebee’s Ewa Beach dining room view from the entrance hosting area; a side note on all those apples: while I thought they might be plastic, they’re all REAL, FRESH APPLES. I was gonna’ take a bite out of every red and green apple here in honor of the launch of the iPhone 7 that same day, but didn’t wanna’ get banned from Applebee’s for life. lol
Applebee’s logo gift glasses for the VIP guests that day; I was hoping there’d be a brand new gloss black iPhone 7 Plus stashed in mine, but nope. Dang it! lol It’s actually an Applebee’s Brewtus 16 oz. beer glass with an Applebee’s logo koozie and reusable ecobag in it.
Once again, there will be a follow-up post to this introduction coming soon that will give you a preview of the entire menu at Applebee’s Ewa Beach, along with a showcase of a variety of tasty appetizers and entrees I got to sample while chatting with the bosses. So stay tuned.
Until then, we’ll leave you with this…