Casual dining chains like Applebee’s are often associated with suburban ’90s culture. But as the restaurant industry morphs and changes as fast as the technology powering it, the home of the Dollarita refuses to stay in that past. Yesterday, Applebee’s announced that, in partnership with DoorDash, it will offer free delivery every Monday night during football season, a move that will hopefully connect the chain to a wider audience as well as stay current with the most red-hot restaurant trend of them all, delivery.
As of yesterday and until December 24, 2018, Applebee’s customers in DoorDash’s range can get free delivery on orders over $25 for the season’s first three games and over $30 thereafter. On the restaurant side of the deal, Applebee’s has integrated DoorDash into its POS system, which lets the former process more orders faster and reduces the number of steps the restaurant staff has to take to fulfill an order.
“There is no better time than football season when we don’t feel like leaving the couch on Monday nights—except maybe to answer the door—to make ordering Applebee’s To Go even more enticing with free delivery,” Scott Gladstone, Vice President of strategy and off-premises, said in a statement.
It’s the latest move in what’s been quite an effort to keep up with what consumers want out of a restaurant. Applebee’s was a very early adopter of in-car pickup (different from drive thru), and in March of 2018, it revamped its website and mobile app, and introduced new to-go packaging that reportedly keeps food hotter for longer.
While those efforts are all to be applauded, how many people these days actually want Applebee’s delivered to their door, even during game time? That’s a question many others will face, too, this football season. Pizza Hut is the official new pizza sponsor of the NFL, and will offer special deals for fans on the day their teams play, among other marketing and engagement tactics. But Pizza Hut is also dealing with slowed sales and needs a high-profile deal to rise above its underdog status.
Buffalo Wild Wings, meanwhile, has partnered with online fantasy sports site DraftKings, creating a custom fantasy football game available through BWW’s rewards app. It’s an obvious move to drive more traffic to the app, and prizes include everything from extra points to free wings for a year.
But engaging with a brand and purchasing from it are two different things, and as Eater astutely points out, a generation like the millennial one is happy to interact with these big brands, but less willing to spend their cash on non-trendy food that doesn’t pop on Instagram.
Then again, the “homegating” crowd may be the perfect audience for places like Pizza Hut and Applebee’s to test whether they can become more than just a hallmark of nostalgia, particularly among younger generations. It seems Applebee’s hopes so, given it’s aim to double off-premises sales by 2022. After all, no matter how state-of-the art your to-go packaging is, you can’t build a business off delivering nostalgia.