One of the first chain restaurants to open in Statesboro about 18 years ago, Applebee’s will close its doors for good at the end of business on Friday. Apple America Group, which owns the local franchise, made the announcement Wednesday.
“We have seen a significant shift in the cities’ retail population away from our location in Statesboro,” said Jennifer Rouse, marketing coordinator for Apple America Group, about the restaurant on Northside Drive in front of Lowe’s. “This has dramatically affected our sales. Our sales numbers have continued to decline, falling below our company averages.
“Because of this, we made the decision to close the Statesboro location Friday. We are working with the all of our Statesboro managers and associates to offer relocation opportunities to other Applebee’s in the area. We are also working with the Georgia Department of Labor to help transition the employees that do not accept offers at other Applebee’s.”
The physical restaurant building and land was acquired by Apple of Statesboro, LLC for $2,175,000 in October 2015. Apple of Statesboro, LLC is based out of Gainesville, Ga.
Rouse confirmed that the Applebee’s franchise’s lease was up for renewal. Rouse did not know how many employees worked at the location that would be affected by the closing.
Apple America Group is headquartered in Independence, Ohio and is the largest Applebee’s Franchisee operating 480 Applebee’s Restaurants across the country. They operate 21 Applebee’s in the region that includes Georgia and Alabama. Statesboro is the only location in the region closing at this time, Rouse said. The closest Applebee’s to Statesboro operated by the group is in Pooler.
According to a March 3, 2017 story on BusinessInsider.com, Dineequity, Applebee’s parent company has plans to close 40 to 60 stores this year. In February, both the CEO and CFO of Dineequity resigned.
Statesboro restaurant owners were sadden by the news of another restaurant closing, but not surprised. There is a concern that the saturation of local and chain restaurants may have outpaced the growth of the community.