FORSYTH — The future of a Decatur-area Applebee's restaurant is uncertain after the company that owns it and IHOP said it would close as many as 160 locations this year. The company also plans to open dozens of new restaurants.
A manager at the Applebee’s in front of the Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth said he had not heard anything either way about the future of the restaurant.
Mike Dehart, manager at IHOP on Pershing Road in Decatur, was optimistic about the future of that restaurant, where he was working his third day Friday.
"They brought me in to turn things around, so I don't think we will be closing anytime soon," he said.
DineEquity Inc. of Glendale, Calif., revised expectations for the full fiscal year during its quarterly earnings call, saying that 105 to 135 Applebee’s restaurants could close, compared to previous expectations that 40 to 60 locations could shut down. These closures will be determined based on criteria such as store profitability, operational results and “brand quality standards.”
At the same time, DineEquity said it expected to open 20 to 30 new Applebee’s restaurants across the globe, most in international locations. In a best-case scenario, the net number of Applebee’s closures could be 75.
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On the IHOP side, DineEquity said closures could range between 20 and 25 restaurants, while the company expects to open 80 to 95 new locations, most of which will be in the U.S. That could mean 75 net openings for the chain.
The company said it didn't have a list of closures, noting that the exact locations have not been determined.
John Cywinski, Applebee’s president, said during the call that the brand will be “aggressive” on restaurant closures this year. Most of the locations fall into two categories: older restaurants in less-busy areas and restaurants that have performed worse than expected.
Worldwide, there are 1,968 Applebee’s and 1,752 IHOP restaurants.
DineEquity also named Stephen Joyce, former head of hotel firm Choice Hotels International Inc., as its new chief executive. Joyce replaces Julia Stewart, who engineered the IHOP and Applebee’s merger but resigned as chairman and CEO in March.