Applebee's is an average chain restaurant that you can find everywhere, but not everyone's a fan. Some people hate it so much, they've sworn to never return. Their reasons why are totally understandable.
Stories have been edited for clarity.
The Waitress’s Response Just Made Things Worse
“I went to Applebee’s and found a legit bee in my mashed potatoes. The waitress laughed and said, ‘Wonder if that’s how they got the name.’ Then tried to accuse me of putting it in there and refused to get the manager.”
How To Ruin Nachos In One Simple Step
“An Applebee’s waitress tried to convince me their ‘new recipe’ nachos didn’t include cheese. When I requested cheese, I was given a plate with two melted cheese slices on it. Never again.”
The Service Wasn’t Just Bad, It Was Downright Criminal
“Our server was snotty and rolled her eyes when we asked politely for silverware and napkins with our pasta. After she dropped off the check, she abandoned our table for over half an hour for a smoke break. She was clearly visible through a window, just chatting and smoking with one of the cooks.
She didn’t get much of a tip from us, but we found out later that she gave herself a nice fat $25 tip on the card we paid with.
Luckily, we kept a copy of the receipt and took it directly to the manager, who was a total piece of work.”
When He Found Glass In His Drink, He Should Have Known Things Weren’t Going To Go Well
“Applebee’s is never going to win any awards, but my hometown has a special ability to ruin any chain that comes here. Regardless, they’d have drink specials or somesuch, and I’d always end up with a group of people who wanted to go there.
First was a piece of glass in my drink. I told the server, then the manager came over, apologized profusely, and offered to get me another drink. Not a free meal or even a free drink…just a different pint with (presumably) no broken glass in it.
Second was when I ordered a ribeye with steamed veggies. The steak was about the length and width of three fingers and the veggies were three medium-sized florets of broccoli. That was it. It was so small on the plate that the server just had the manager bring it out instead of going through the process of showing it to me and THEN getting the manager.
I just ate it and never went back. If the cooks thought this was appropriate and the manager was fine with it, I wasn’t going to argue for more food with extra spit in it.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone. There was a huge banner covering the entire front of the restaurant that said, ‘UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT!’ a while back. I’m still not interested.”
The Kids Were Fascinated By The Window
“The first and last time we ate Applebee’s, I noticed my children looking out the window while we were waiting for our order. Then I realized that they were watching a stream of ants walking along the windowsill. I guess I can’t say that we ate there…we just left.”
They Only Saw The Waitress Twice
“I was sat by the hostess, then I waited 20 minutes just to get my drink order taken. Eventually, the manager brought them out and 20 minutes later, the server took our food order. Then she disappeared for half an hour. I went to find the manager again, but he couldn’t find her, so he brought the food then ignored us again, too. I left a tip, but it was two pennies and a soggy straw wrapper making a frowny face.”
Making Her Pasta Proved Too Difficult For Them To Handle
“My now wife and I went to Applebee’s. I got a burger and fries, she got pasta. I think penne with some sort of Alfredo sauce. Our food came out together, reasonably quickly, so far so good. My burger was passable, nothing special, but nothing wrong with it. My wife’s pasta was extremely undercooked. The noodles were crunchy, they were uncooked to be honest. Server checked on us and immediately took it to the kitchen to have it remade. Great, that’s all we can ask.
The issue was they just made one huge batch of pasta and then heated it up with sauce for an order. The new order came from the same batch, it was exactly the same. So now, I had long finished my dinner and my partner had sent her meal back for the second time. The manager himself brought out the 3rd edition of her meal and promised that they ‘cooked the crap out of it,’ which translates to microwaving it for like 10 minutes. But it’s pasta, if it wasn’t cooked in the first place, microwaving it really doesn’t do much. So it’s now half extremely over-cooked pasta, and still half completely uncooked.
At this point, we had to argue with the manager to get them to boil some new pasta, which they could have done an hour ago at this point. In the end, they did, but because they couldn’t figure out what the issue was in the first place, they extremely overcooked the last one, which we had asked to take to go since I was long finished eating. We took it home and it was just a mass of inedible, beyond overcooked pasta, which we just ended up throwing in the garbage. I think I just took her through a drive-thru in the end. And we won’t be going back.”
They Usually Avoided Eating There, But A Cross Country Trip Forced Their Hand
“There was one near my house in Cleveland, and I think I went once because someone asked me to meet them there. It blows. It’s the worst microwaved crap in the world. I don’t understand how (Seattle notwithstanding) there appears to be one on every other corner.
Once, my family, including my young son Simon, and I decided to spontaneously go east to visit Silverwood, in Idaho, near Spokane, Washington. As anyone who has ever done the I-90 trek knows, the number of actual restaurants you can sit down in and have food brought to you between Seattle and Chicago numbers in the teens, at best. On our move west, the only place we had in five days of driving was an Outback (also not great) in Rapid City, South Dakota.
We got into the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area a little on the late side, and we had to get food in Simon before he crashed for bed. The only thing reasonably close was an Applebee’s. I figured, what the heck, I hadn’t been to one in three years, we’ll give it a shot. How bad could it be?
Pretty freaking bad, it turns out.
It started with the service. The crappiest waiter in history neglected us for more than five minutes after sitting down, and with no silverware, it made getting Simon’s food rolling harder. We immediately ordered, including drinks, and asked for silverware so we could cut up Simon’s food. The dude brought back one roll of implements, apparently expecting us to eat with our hands. Drinks came a full ten minutes after that. The pattern of neglect continued, but I’ll spare you those details.
On to the food. They had a $20 deal for two entrees and an appetizer. That seemed likely to control the damage, so we agreed to do that. The appetizer was cheesesticks. Surprisingly, there were nine of them, which was three too many for us, but they were typical food service cheese sticks and not bad. However, they were served with whatever burned crap was also in the fryer at the time, which was gross. Who plates this crap?
We both got ‘fiesta lime chicken,’ which is chicken covered in some limey sauce and smothered with cheese, on a bed of tortilla chips, rice on the side. The plate was super hot, but the food was not. The chicken was overcooked and dried out, so I’m going to go with microwaved. I mostly could taste salt. The rice was dry, as if it had been cooked too long, then sat under heat lamps, and dried out to its original state.
It was just generally nasty, with crap service. I don’t remember it always being like this. It’s not the only place to go to crap, either. Friday’s was good once upon a time, in part because of the fantastic burgers.
I just don’t understand how the chain can survive, serving crap that I wouldn’t give to my cats. And the place had people lined up out the door, too. Has watching Food Network raised my standards, or is it really that bad?
Applebee’s, you suck. Your microwaved crap food sucks. You should be embarrassed that people even plated that crap.”
Her Time Working At Applebee’s Really Opened Her Eyes
“I worked there for three days. The kitchen was filthier than Newt Gingrich. The manager was wasted. I got sick from the sick people working on the line. It remains the most depressing and God awful working experience of my life.
When I was hired on, my manager asked if I wanted the good news or the bad news. I said surprise me. She said the bad news is I won’t get my first check for five weeks. I said what the heck is the good news. She said I’d have a pretty big check at that point.
There literally were six microwaves on the line. The kitchen was inexcusably bad. Don’t go there, ever. This is not a business that takes serving people or cleaning their facilities seriously. Before you say, ‘They can’t all be that bad,’ I say forget you. A restaurant is only as good as its crappiest location. If they can’t establish rules and enforce them, they deserve to be shut down. Even if they’re the only restaurant open, don’t give them your money.”
They Forgot To Grill The Grilled Chicken
“I ordered a grilled chicken salad and the chicken was raw. It was practically still clucking. The manager came over and told me it was cooked. No. It was raw. They didn’t even take it off the bill. Then the server gave herself an extra 30% tip, which I found out from the bank later. I called the Applebee’s and he offered me coupons. I told him that was ridiculous, as I would never return and what she did was against the law. They suck.”
The Food Left Him With A Sinking Sensation In His Stomach
“In the summer of 1995, I was a freshman in college. During a break from rehearsing for our marching band’s first halftime show, my buddies and I went to Applebee’s for lunch. By the time we returned to the practice field, that plate of riblets had decimated my digestive system. I put down my saxophone and started sprinting, butt cheeks clenched. I totally pooped myself about a quarter mile from the bathroom. Thanks, Applebee’s!”
They Used To Be Friendly With Management, But Not After That Night
“At one point in their history, they did a good job. Every week, regular as a clock, my pals and I would roll in late on Friday, which put us there around 7 or so. The same staff was there most of the time we visited and almost all of them were exceptionally competent folks. Somewhere along the way, something changed. I don’t know if it was a manager or what, but the food quality quickly went downhill.
I’ll freely own up to being called a heathen, but I like my steaks well done. If I wanted my food bleeding on me, I’d go back to hunting it myself. Three trips in a row, my food arrived and the steak was so bloody inside when I cut it open, I couldn’t eat it. It looked like a miniature murder scene. I suppose, in a way, it was.
The regular staff we’d really liked tended to not be as present since the business change, so getting things resolved in a positive manner was less frequent. We all collectively agreed to start taking our business elsewhere for a while. We went back after a couple months. The nightly staff there recognized us and asked why we hadn’t been in. I asked if they were seriously inquiring (and they were). So I told them to get the manager so I could elaborate.
I gave the manager and well-liked servers the simple explanation. I relayed that we’d all decided to come back and give it a go, see if things had improved, or if we should just give our money to other businesses. Manager seemed keen to seize on this and went into the kitchen personally with our order.
About 20 minutes later, our food came out. Everybody’s food looked pretty good. I cut my steak open and the thing had only been seared on the outside. It wasn’t pink, it was flat red throughout. Manager and serving staff were on hand to witness it. I rolled my eyes up at him and said something like, ‘If you wanted us to get out, you could have done it without wasting your food stock.’
Upside: Didn’t have to pay a dime for anything that night.
Downside: Had to be ‘the jerk’ on the matter, and say goodbye to some really great servers.”
Even If The Waiter Had Actually Been Any Good, Their Night Wasn’t Going To End Well
“I brought my brother and his friends out for dinner for his birthday. Since his birthday fell on a Saturday night, I phoned days ahead to make sure that we could still get a spot for five people. What I didn’t know was how this particular restaurant was run in this ‘little big town.’ To explain, said town had become a moderately sized city, but still clung to the cliquishness that you find in small towns. People there go all out to favor their friends, and more respect is given to people whose families have been there for generations.
So, we showed up for our dinner reservation and the place was packed. The staff was entirely people in their early 20’s and it was clear that they were serving their friends and people they went to high school with first. We didn’t blend with the rest of the clientele, as our family had only been living in the area for about eight years. Getting anything but the most perfunctory replies from the hostess was an effort. We were waiting for our table to become available when the hostess was approached by a group of people she obviously knew. She told them that there weren’t any tables available, and they looked at her list, saw our reservation, and said, ‘Well, just give us these people’s spot.’ My jaw absolutely dropped. She actually looked like she was going to do it, too! I had to approach them and tell them that I had made the reservation and that they could not just scoop it from us.
We eventually got to our table and had the rudest waiter I have ever encountered. He was a surly 18-year-old who took 30 minutes to even come to our table after we were seated, only to greet us with, ‘Yeah, what?’ After that, he completely ghosted and wouldn’t come to the table until I complained to someone else about the lack of service. Our meals took well over an hour to arrive and were tossed down in front of us with utter contempt and no cutlery. Snark boy was nowhere to be found, so I ended up grabbing the cutlery myself.
At the end of this less than stellar night, none of us tipped him. He looked at the bill and snarled, ‘Gee, thanks a lot, guys.’ Local management refused to address the problem (small town butt covering again), and it wasn’t until I posted a bad review that I heard from their corporate office.”
The Waitress’s Attitude Was Totally Uncalled For
“Our party one night sat next to a table-full of parents and their little toddlers/kids. One of those little kids, who wouldn’t stop running around, accidentally knocked over my drink. I wasn’t that mad. I, her mom, and even that kid helped clean up the mess.
The server then came over and saw us all cleaning up, but this bimbo had the audacity to yell at us. ‘Why do you let your daughter do this? You know that’s rude for workers like us. People like you shouldn’t have kids!’
First off, that kid was not my daughter. Second, do you believe I make messes just to tick you off, ma’am? Keep in mind, the spill happened on tile, not something difficult to clean, such as carpet.
When it was time for the bill, I gave that hussy a fat $0 in tips for calling me out. And I knew she talked some racial stuff about me as my party headed out the door. Never coming back to places like this.”
The Server THOUGHT She’d Attached The Booster Seat Correctly
“My parents wanted to take me out for birthday lunch, but I know they won’t even try the food from the good places in town. We have local Thai, Indian, and a Japanese steakhouse, but they’re meat and potatoes people.
We get there and they seat us at one of those really high tables. No big deal, except I have my toddler with me. They got me a booster seat, but it had no way to attach to the chair. The lady thought she has it set up and left. Next thing I know, I was catching my toddler out of the air because, while she was attached to the booster, the booster was attached to nothing. Then the service sucked and the food was nasty and slow.”
She Refused To Fix Their Order, Then Demanded They Pay For The Wrong Meal
“The last (and, oh, do I mean last) time my family went was on my mother’s birthday, and it was the only time four out of six of our meals were wrong. The waitress started crabbing at my mom for it, saying she didn’t say her order right the first time ordering and that if we wanted different food, we would have to pay for the wrong orders as well. I don’t think that is even legal if we didn’t eat it. First time in my life we dined and dashed, because Applebee’s literally the worst.”
The Staff Was Pretty Much Useless, Even The Managers
“Apparently, when you ask the staff to please stop the spitting contest happening right outside the window, they’ll go to the people outside and point you out. They didn’t stop the contest, but instead started heckling the window. The staff did nothing.
Then, when you ask for the manager, he acts as if the people doing the spitting contest are the president’s sons, doesn’t do a thing, and goes right back to his podium in the back.
Then, when you call corporate complaint line, they don’t give a crap either. No follow up, etc.”
The Waitress Responded To His Innocent Question With Total Disdain
“I’m from the UK and spent a summer in the US a few years ago. I saw a competition on the wall as I walked in and it sparked my interest. I politely asked the server about it and her response was full of attitude, ‘I’ll let you know about that offer when I know that you know how to tip.’
What sort of backwards logic is this!?
Clearly, she did not receive a nice tip. We didn’t even care that much about the competition, we were simply curious.”
His Steak Was Totally Inedible
“Applebee’s has been the only restaurant where I sent food back, and by no means am I a picky eater or a food snob. This was over three years ago, so my memory’s a little fuzzy about it, but I ordered a steak that came with peppers. It tasted like it’d been boiled in water and was extremely tough to chew.”
The Microwaved Pasta Wasn’t Worth The Hassle
“I used to enjoy them, but the last time I had a pasta from there, it was really runny, watery, and had that faint sort-of freezer-burned aftertaste. That’s when I realized they just microwave their food. Or at least much of it. And if I want a microwaved meal, I can get a frozen dinner from the grocery store. At least it’s cheaper with less wait time and no tip required.
I know now that they aren’t the only restaurant that does this, but it has made me avoid them. If I am going to go to a chain restaurant, there are better quality ones with similar pricing.”
Food Poisoning Wasn’t The Worst Part Of Their Visit
“I got food poisoning from their quesadilla burger. That and I also had to watch a manager chew a server out to the point of tears while customers watched. I don’t remember what she did, but nothing she could’ve done deserved the treatment she got. It was degrading and outright nasty what he said to her.
Myself and a few others actually pulled the manager aside later to individually tell him how terrible he was. I told him I’d never be back and stuck to it.
I miss those darn Wonton tacos though. Holy heck, those were tasty. It’s been like two years or so since I’ve been back.”
He And The Waiter Got Into A Bit Of A Confrontation
“I went to dinner with my son, his kids, and my ex (son’s mother) for a nice family meal. I ordered a steak with no onions, but they put the darn onions on my steak, got into it with the server and got kicked out. Needless to say, I will not be returning.”