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Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:07 PM

Instead of boycotting Applebee's...

At first glance, our instinct is to boycott Applebee's because of what the owner said about laying people off to avoid paying for health insurance. However, if we do that we hurt the workers even more, and if Applebee's goes out of business, the story won't be the boycott, but that Obamacare drove them out of business. So I have an idea: instead of boycotting, we should eat at Applebee's and order in such a way that supports the workers more than the business, by ordering the lowest-profit margin items, drinking water, and leaving a generous tip.

I did a little bit of research on restaurant profit margins, and in most cases, items such as steak and seafood are "lost leaders", where the restaurant doesn't make very much but uses to draw people in. This is particularly true in recent years, with rising costs of raw materials. On the other hand, pasta dishes tend to be a big money-maker for restaurants, since pasta is so cheap. And it goes without saying that restaurants make much bigger profits on drinks than they do on food (including soft drinks). According to a friend who worked in a restaurant, appetizers tend to also be high profit items. Here is a list of which items in restaurants tend to be high or low margin.

One way to spot which items are the highest margin is where they are placed on the menu. Anything in a box is designed to highlight the highest margin. Additionally, items in the top-right corner or middle of menus tend to be high margin, because studies have shown that is where the eyes gravitate first. So if you eat at Applebee's, avoid anything in a box or the top-right corner. On some longer restaurant menus, the low margin items are often placed on the last page.

In some, my suggestion is that instead of boycotting Applebee's, we should go there and:
1) Order only water - no other drinks. If you must order another drink, order one with free refills and get several refills.
2) Not order appetizers
3) Order low-profit entrees such as steaks and seafood
4) Tip generously
5) Include a note that you are tipping an extra few dollars to cover the cost of health insurance for the workers, and would be happy to do so every time

I know it's a bit of an unconventional approach, and there are plenty of other reasons not to eat at chain restaurants. I also know some of you are vegetarians. But for those who currently eat at Applebee's, this might be a better approach than boycotting, because it will send a message without hurting the workers.

Thoughts? In particular, I would appreciate information from people who have worked in restaurants (especially restaurants similar to Applebee's) about what items are the most and least profitable.

ON EDIT: For Papa John's, I was thinking maybe we could start a campaign to add 14 cents to each order with a note that we support Obamacare and are willing to pay the extra 14 cents.

34 replies, 4807 views

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply Instead of boycotting Applebee's... (Original post)
democrattotheend Nov 2012 OP
Sekhmets Daughter Nov 2012 #1
coalition_unwilling Nov 2012 #2
democrattotheend Nov 2012 #4
L0oniX Nov 2012 #3
democrattotheend Nov 2012 #5
L0oniX Nov 2012 #9
doc03 Nov 2012 #6
democrattotheend Nov 2012 #7
LancetChick Nov 2012 #8
cherish44 Nov 2012 #10
proud2BlibKansan Nov 2012 #11
cbdo2007 Nov 2012 #31
proud2BlibKansan Nov 2012 #33
Lint Head Nov 2012 #12
democrattotheend Nov 2012 #14
MrYikes Nov 2012 #13
lonestarnot Nov 2012 #15
ScarletFyre Nov 2012 #16
trouble.smith Nov 2012 #17
Mothdust Nov 2012 #18
proud2BlibKansan Nov 2012 #20
Mothdust Nov 2012 #22
AlexSatan Nov 2012 #30
cali Nov 2012 #19
Blue Belle Nov 2012 #21
rhett o rick Nov 2012 #23
Daemonaquila Nov 2012 #26
rhett o rick Nov 2012 #29
KatyAnn Nov 2012 #24
jmowreader Nov 2012 #25
democrattotheend Nov 2012 #32
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2012 #27
Daemonaquila Nov 2012 #28
FSogol Nov 2012 #34

Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:11 PM

1. An excellent idea

and I appreciate the information...

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:19 PM

2. For those tempted to mess with Applebee's via its Investor Relations module, the

 

company is owned by a Holding Company (that also owns IHOP) called Dine Equity. Ticker symbol is 'DIN' and it's currently trading for about $62/share. So you can buy a share thru Schwab or other discount brokerage for about $70 and then start complaining to the Board of Directors, if so inclined.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:21 PM

4. That is a good idea. Maybe we can take it a step further...

and encourage union pension plans that are invested to engage in shareholder activism around this issue.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:20 PM

3. On the other hand ...using human shields is despicable!

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Response to L0oniX (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:21 PM

5. Human shields?

I am not sure I follow...

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Response to democrattotheend (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:29 PM

9. Yea ...they won't attack us because we have working people in front of the boycott missiles.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:23 PM

6. Veterans you can start tomorrow. They give away a free dinner tomorrow to

veterans and active service personnel. Go there get your free dinner order water (a drink isn't included with their free meal) and don't get any desert. Leave a $5.00 tip.

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Response to doc03 (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:25 PM

7. That is a great idea

Leave a tip and a note that you support Obamacare and will come back for a paid meal when they start providing health insurance for their workers.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:29 PM

8. I don't think that would change Applebee's behavior.

People who are hungry want to eat what they want to eat, and I think that choosing food items according to profit margin is asking a lot. People have a certain amount of money they are going to spend on restaurants, and I think it's much easier (for me, at least!) to simply choose a place whose behavior doesn't offend me. That way there is still the same amount of money being funneled into the restaurant business, it's just being distributed a little less favorably to offensive places, and more favorably to places who treat their employees better. Massive boycotts send a quick and decisive signal, and often result in change.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:39 PM

10. I imagine most of the fast food/franchise chains that are spouting off about employee health care

already have mostly part time workers that they don't offer benefits to. (PLUS pay if it's a sit-down place like Applebee's they only pay a tipped employee's wage so they don't even have to pay their workers the full minimum wage, customers pay most of their employee's wages in the form of tips...) It's just them making a lot of noise to get the "see I told you Obamacare was evil" crowd fired up.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:41 PM

11. It's one guy who owns Applebees restaurants in NY

He has absolutely nothing to do with any of the Applebees restaurants anywhere else.

So boycott the ones he owns but not the others.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:00 PM

31. In fact, support his Applebee's competitors....

find out which Applebee's restaurants he doesn't own and support them. Bring their profits higher and higher so they'll be encouraged to offer health care coverage as well.

You may know this already, but Applebee's is headquartered here in KCMO at 81st and State Line. Lost of great people work there and they have absolutely no say in what individual franchises do on this issue.

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #31)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:15 PM

33. Exactly. This guy doesn't own restaurants here.

So I will continue to patronize Applebee's. I happen to like their food.

Unlike the Papa Johns situation, where the CEO of the entire company made a stupid statement, this is ONE franchisee for Applebee's. He has zero control over the Applebee's near my house in Kansas. It's owned by a local franchisee who is providing jobs in my community. You bet I'm going to patronize this restaurant.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:42 PM

12. Sounds ok but I think people who have distain for and treat employees this way should not be

"in business". Applebees, Papa Johns and other businesses of their ilk are actually not needed. They offer nothing but food high on fat because it's tasty and cheap. They deny health care to their employees then feed people fatty foods that eventually take a toll on health.

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Response to Lint Head (Reply #12)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:59 PM

14. Applebees actually does have lower-calorie offerings

But in general, I see your point. At the same time, if these businesses go out of business it will be big news that will give ammunition to those claiming that Obamacare is hurting American business, and if enough businesses go out of business and blame Obamacare it could bolster support for repeal. And I don't want to compound the harm to the workers who are already having their hours cut by boycotting (not that I regularly eat at these places. Almost ate at Applebee's the day after Sandy because it was the only thing open for 30 miles). The way I see it, following my strategy keeps a table from someone who might order more profitably and tip less generously.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 05:43 PM

13. Think I'll just keep on eating at

Joe's EATS. $1 per egg, all the toast and coffee you want (you have to fix the toast and pour your own coffee) price included with the eggs. But the conversations you hear and are involved in are really why you are there.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 06:01 PM

15. And then if it's not edible, bring it home to the doggie!

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 06:11 PM

16. I was thinking...

Of going in, and when the waitress comes to take the order, tipping the waitress without ordering any food. This way the employee gets some cash, and the store gets nothing.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 06:17 PM

17. I've been boycotting Applebees for years and will continue to do so. they always fuck up my order.

 

every god damned time.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:19 PM

18. no it would be much better to

Go in large groups, order lots of high end food. Then put hair and bugs in it and refuse to pay the bill, except a big cash tip into the hand of the server : )

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Response to Mothdust (Reply #18)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:37 PM

20. Putting hair and bugs in the food could get the kitchen staff fired.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #20)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:08 PM

22. you're right! sorry

I guess I got carried away. Don't anyone do it !

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #20)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:54 AM

30. Not to mention it is dishonest

 

and fraud.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:37 PM

19. Honestly, I don't mean to sound like a food snob

but I've eaten at Applebee's once- years and years ago. that was more than enough. it's ersatz food, folks. There's just nothing honest or decent or real about it. My local diner is about a 100x better and they support and serve local food, and it's cheaper than Applebee's. Find local non-chain restaurants to patronize.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:57 PM

21. Great idea...

However, the only way I can manage to choke down one of their crappy prepackaged entrees is with alcohol, so I think I will just go to a good local pub instead.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:44 PM

23. I disagree. Boycotting means you go to a competitor. Hopefully a local business.

If an Applebee's goes out of business, that business goes elsewhere. The total number of jobs is the same.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #23)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 01:21 AM

26. Thi, this, this.

All the OP's strategy will do is SUPPORT Appleby's. Maybe they make less money per customer, but they still make money, and they're as full as ever. It's as useful as convincing people to buy at Walmart - just buy all your scrips and electronics there, but buy your soda elsewhere. That'll show 'em! Nonsense.

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Response to Daemonaquila (Reply #26)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:59 AM

29. I agree. And the argument that boycotts hurt the employees is bunk.

If you continue eating out then you are moving your patronage from Applebees to a competitor. The competitor will have to hire more employees.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 11:35 PM

24. We just got home from having free steak dinners at Applebees.

My husband and I are both veterans.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:38 AM

25. Why in hell would you eat at that guy's Applebee's anyway?

We are talking about the franchisee for the New York Metro Area. That place is so thick with quality locally-owned restaurants, there is no need to walk into his stores anyway!

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Response to jmowreader (Reply #25)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:03 PM

32. I have not eaten there in years

And I would never eat there in New York, because, as you said, there are so many better locally owned options. Occasionally I would go to Applebee's when I went to visit my parents, since that area is sadly filled with chain restaurants and few good local options.

I admit that we did consider eating there during the hurricane, when I was in North Jersey with my boyfriend and it was the only thing that appeared to be open for 30 miles. But then it turned out it wasn't open. This was before the election, so I didn't know we were supposed to boycott it.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 01:26 AM

27. What a bunch of Crap...Bullshit and appeasement.

Boycotts work.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 01:31 AM

28. Yes, the point of a boycott is to put a company out of business.

Yes, that puts people out of work. In turn, other companies pick up the business and have to hire people, including the boycotted business's former staff.

This silly queasiness about boycotts leads to more silliness like "We can't boycott ________ for unfair labor practices! That would actually put union members out of work! Oh noes!!!!" Guess what - concern-trolling for the employees just enables bad companies to continue making profits while crapping on their staff.

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Response to democrattotheend (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:19 PM

34. Leave 14 cents & note? LOL at your passive-aggressive boycott.

Applebees and Papa John both suck and that is before you consider their politics. Don't eat there.

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