Twenty years ago, Applebee’s Neighbourhood Grill and Bar became an international brand and a proud member of the Canadian community when it opened its first restaurant outside of the United States on Pembina Highway in Manitoba, Canada.
In the two decades since then, Applebee’s has been proudly serving guests its famous burgers, steaks, chicken wings, ribs, salads, and cocktails across Canada, including Calgary, Winnipeg, Ontario, and Regina.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary and express the pride and gratitude in being part of these neighborhoods, Applebee’s has introduced exclusive new items to the Canadian menu that celebrate the tastes and heritage of the country.
“The opening of the first international Applebee’s in 1994 was the beginning of a 20-year love affair between our restaurants and our Canadian guests, and it’s been growing stronger ever since as our presence and our commitment to Canada and the local community has grown,” says Daniel del Olmo, president of International, DineEquity, Inc.
“Our newest menu items clearly demonstrate our goal of combining Applebee’s quality with the desires of our guests," he says. "We are extremely thankful that we have been able to provide delicious food to our Canadian guests for over two decades and we’re looking forward to many more years—and new locations—in this great country.”
As part of this celebration Applebee’s franchisee Dynapple Inc. invited chefs and team members throughout their restaurants in Ontario to submit ideas and recipes for dishes they thought would delight their fellow Canadian guests—everything from generational family recipes to new favorite appetizers to cocktail creations.
Over 52 recipes were submitted. These were then narrowed down to 10 finalists and ultimately, working with Applebee’s International Chef Mike Futris, the winner and two runners-up are now on the menu and available only in Canada.
- WINNER – California Chicken Melt: A twist on a West Coast sandwich. A grilled seasoned chicken breast topped with sautéed red onions, melted Swiss cheese, fresh avocado, and arugula. Served with sliced tomato and zesty lemon basil mayo on toasted Marble Rye bread.
- Created by: Chef Dennis Herbert of Ajax, Ontario
- RUNNER UP – Fiesta Lime Chicken Rollup: Applebee's signature Fiesta Lime Chicken rolled into a flour tortilla. Grilled chicken, mexi ranch sauce, and Jack-cheddar cheese, combined with tortilla strips, rice, and fresh pico de gallo. Served with Spicy Chipotle Lime salsa for dipping.
- Created by: Chef Meghan Kesick of Ajax, Ontario
- RUNNER UP – Applebee’s Homestyle Shepherd’s Pie: Classic comfort food at its best. Ground beef, carrots, corn, peas, and onions in a delicious rich gravy smothered with our freshly made red skinned garlic mashed potatoes
- Created by: Chef Drew Torok of Windsor, Ontario.
“It is difficult to overstate how excited we are to begin rolling out these delicious new menu items,” says Chef Mike Futris. “All of the winning entrées were initially crafted in the home kitchens of our Ontario chefs and that homemade flavor stands out in a uniquely enjoyable way. Special thanks go out to our Canadian franchise group, Dynapple, for coming up with this contest and the delicious new menu additions! ”
In addition to the winning competition entrees, Applebee’s will be adding new dishes to the menu that draw on other flavors that celebrate Canada and are exclusive to the menu in Canada, including two new burgers:
- Poutine Burger: The classic, juicy, hand-smashed burger is topped with aged white cheddar and Applebee's signature poutine.
- Nacho Burger: Warm nacho chips, fresh pico de gallo, and Jack Cheddar cheese top the hand-smashed, chipotle-lime-seasoned burger. Served with shredded lettuce, Mexi-ranch sauce, and sour cream, all on a toasted bakery bun.
“As part of our determination to become Canada’s favorite neighborhood Grill and Bar, we conducted extensive consumer research to determine what guests would like to see on our menu, and burgers were far and away their top choice,” says Del Olmo.
Other menu items exclusive to Canada include:
- Triple Decker Club: grilled seasoned chicken, crispy bacon, Cheddar and Swiss cheeses, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. Served on toasted Hawaiian bread.
- Crispy Onion Petals: Golden fried battered onion strips served with Signature dipping sauce and chipotle mayo.
- Dulce De Leche Caramel Cheesecake: Our crustless caramel cheesecake served with caramel sauce and whipped cream.
And, guests can choose from new items that showcase Applebee’s more than 30 years of experience as a leader in Grill and Bar food:
- Classic Reuben
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Sweet and Spicy Steak Stir Fry
- Crunchy Thai Shrimp Salad
- Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks
- Classic Meat Lasagna