Current CEO Steve Joyce’s contract will expire in February.

Dine Brands, owner of Applebee’s and IHOP, announced Friday that it is seeking a new CEO. 

The company will allow current CEO Steve Joyce’s contract to expire next February. Dine Brands did not indicate why Joyce’s contract was not being renewed. 

“I am proud of the growth that we have experienced during my tenure as Chief Executive Officer,” said Joyce in a statement. “Since 2017, we have established and executed on strategic plans, strengthened the franchisee base, completed a $1.3 billion securitization transaction and returned significant capital to stockholders. With the occurrence of the crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is not only essential that we all focus on our current situation, but also our emergence with a strong leadership team for the future.”

Joyce’s stint as CEO began September 2017 after previously serving as CEO of Choice Hotels for nearly nine years. Prior to that, he worked as executive vice president, global development/owner and franchise services for Marriott International.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Dine Brands concluded a three-year strategy to close 200 underperforming Applebee’s restaurants—a situation that plagued the company in recent years. That led into the chain’s strategy to target “the value seeker” with deals like 25-cent boneless wings and All-You-Can Riblets for $14.99.

Applebee’s saw 10 straight weeks of positive same-store sales and nine consecutive weeks of positive comparable traffic when the pandemic hit. IHOP saw eight straight periods of growth. The pandemic put a halt to both of those streaks, with Applebee’s finishing Q1 down 10.6 percent and IHOP dropping 14.7 percent. 

The board of directors hired search firm Spencer Stuart to assist with finding a new CEO. 

“We appreciate Steve’s considerable contributions to Dine Brands during a critical period for the Company accentuated by this current crisis,” said Richard Dahl, Chairman of the Board. “We are pleased to be working with Spencer Stuart to identify a leader from both an internal and external pool of candidates.”

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Feature, Applebee's