Entrance to Applebee's restaurant with logo above door, northern Idaho. (Photo by: Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
How Applebee's Is Rebranding Its Music
By Camryn Teder
Applebee's traditionally has strived to serve food in a friendly neighborhood setting, but in 2014, individual franchises underwent massive renovations to seem more hip and modern, including updated employee uniforms. Company president John Cywinski recalls that it failed miserably, but he made a more successful attempt at modernization when he heard one country music song several years later.
Applebee's is now going all in on country music, rebranding itself as a music-oriented fast-casual chain — and, once again, looking to appeal to younger folks. The spark for this idea came when country star Walker Hayes released his hit 2021 song "Fancy Like," detailing a day spent at Applebee's, which topped the Billboard charts and won a Grammy.
Cywinski took note of the song's influence after it spawned a viral TikTok dance craze, and the restaurant began to pivot its focus toward country music. Per Rolling Stone, Applebee's crafted an entire TV commercial around "Fancy Like," which was a huge success, helping Applebee's to rebrand as a favorite for country music fans.