Applebee's has endured a brutal bloodletting at the hands of millennial customers in recent years.
Now, according to the chain's president, the chain is turning around business by treating younger customers like any other Americans — not quinoa-obsessed, trendy caricatures.
On Wednesday, Applebee's reported comparable sales increased 5.7% in the most recent quarter, marking the third quarter of growth for the chain.
"We have mojo," John Cywinski, Applebee's brand president, told Business Insider. "Feels good to be winning again."
"Slowly but surely, America is rediscovering its love for Applebee's," Cywinski added.
Applebee's has struggled to grow sales in recent years. The chain attempted to reverse the slump by making changes such as installing wood-fire grills in all 2,000-plus locations in 2016, intended to attracted higher-income and millennial customers.
The strategy failed, with Applebee's closing 99 locations in 2017. Now, the chain is trying a new tact with $1 drinks and a renewed emphasis on value.
"We're not a hip and trendy brand," Cywinski said. "We're not pretentious, we're all-American in every respect."
Cywinski was appointed Applebee's president in March 2017 and tasked with turning the chain around. Having previously served as Applebee's chief marketing officer from 2001 to 2006, he rejoined the company with the goal of taking Applebee's back to its roots.
"If you can't pronounce a menu item, it's not making its way to Applebee's menu," Cywkinsi said, pointing to foods like quinoa and pomegranate that wouldn't make the cut.