The Rock, a Country Song, and a TikTok Trend Help Save Applebee’s From a Slow Death

Every American of a certain age has fond memories of their neighborhood Applebee’s. The once staple restaurant of suburbia has since fallen on tough times. This is not unique to Applebee’s, as dozens of other chains are also struggling. It seemed the emergence of internet reviews and accompanying social media posts about indy restaurants meant the end of restaurant chains. But just as the internet taketh, the internet giveth. The former king of chain restaurants has been given another shot of life from a new viral sensation, with the help of some celebrities — including The Rock. Here is what you need to know about Applebee’s current renaissance and the memes that made it happen.

Applebee’s faced pre-pandemic struggles

Applebee’s | Scott Olson/Getty Images

As many chains were already struggling, it seemed that the COVID-19 pandemic would be the final straw that broke the camel’s back. With restaurants closing their dining rooms, people started speculating which chains would still be standing after lockdowns. Mashed made a list of chains most likely to permanently close in 2021 — and on that list was Applebee’s.