Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar honored franchisees and vendors who demonstrated excellence in operational performance and leadership at the 2017 Applebee’s Fall Franchise Conference in Boca Raton, Florida, on October 29.

“It’s always an honor to recognize those who represent this great brand exceptionally well,” says John Cywinski, president of Applebee’s. “We have some of the best franchisees in the business who define excellence in leadership and innovation. I’m proud to be part of this extraordinarily unique Applebee’s family.”

The Abe Gustin Franchisee of the Year Award: Apple American Group and Chairman and CEO, Greg Flynn

This annual award, named for the man who helped build Applebee’s into the nation’s iconic, casual dining brand, is given to a franchisee who has achieved the highest standards possible for the Applebee’s brand, restaurants and guests. Applebee’s largest franchisee, with 475 restaurants, Apple American Group has proven to be an invaluable and operational leader. The organization continues to set the bar for industry excellence not only in restaurant operations, but by the positive impact it makes in each neighborhood it serves nationwide.

The Lloyd Hill Neighbor of the Year Award: The Rose Group

This award, newly named after one of our historic leaders who fueled Applebee’s unparalleled growth and championed its unique culture, recognizes the Applebee’s franchisee that has demonstrated an infinite amount of generosity, compassion and care for their neighbors through a variety of causes, activities and initiatives. This year’s honoree was The Rose Group. The Rose Group embraces every neighborhood they serve. From hosting more than 2,100 charitable events and fulfilling more than 2,000 donation requests to serving more than 27,300 free meals to veterans and active duty military. While already an extensive list, the group’s biggest passion project came 13 years ago when they took a phone call from Liz Scott, co-founder of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, building this into a brand-wide initiative. To date, the Rose Group has raised more than $3.6 million for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

The Bill Palmer Heart of Applebee’s Award: Doherty Enterprises

This award, named after the founder of the brand, is awarded to a single Applebee’s franchisee that has shown the greatest commitment to an individual cause or organization. The 2017 recipient of the Heart of Applebee’s award is Doherty Enterprises, in recognition for their WOW a Friend Foundation. In 2007, Doherty created the Foundation to support its internal family or team members with immediate financial assistance during times of hardship. Since 2007, their Foundation has raised more than $2.7 million and given back more than $1.6 million to Doherty employees.

The Operator of the Year Award: Dan Krebsbach, Apple American Group

This award recognizes an operator who is passionate about what they do at Applebee’s, and goes above and beyond every day to ensure their restaurants and management teams exceed guest expectations. This year’s recipient, Dan Krebsbach, SVP of operations of Apple American Group has embedded a culture of high standards and accountability. Committed to providing guests with an outstanding experience each and every day, he has championed building strong teams and sustaining exceptional talent.

The International Franchisee of the Year Award: Internacional 999, Mexico

This award recognizes the international franchisee that has consistently raised the Applebee’s brand on an international level. For the first time, this honor was awarded to a franchisee for the second time, and consecutively. Internacional 999, Mexico was recognized for their dedication to talent development, menu testing, community support and overall business excellence.

The Vendor of the Year Award: Custom Culinary

Every year this honor is awarded to the vendor that made the greatest contribution to the Applebee’s system. This year, Custom Culinary was recognized as Applebee’s Vendor of the Year. Having been a longstanding supplier to the Applebee’s system with a proven record of innovation, professionalism and support. They consistently provide Applebee’s culinary with industry-best research and develop outstanding products.

Distributor of the Year Award: Gordon Food Service

This year’s Distributor of the Year Award winner is Gordon Food Service. This distributor demonstrated a truly remarkable performance to ensure continuity of supply to restaurants impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News