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Looking for a place to get an appetizer trio and get your groove on at the same time? Give Club Applebees a try. Just as most casual dining restaurants close, Club Applebees starts pumping the music and pouring drinks into red plastic Solo cups. The red cups confirm that this club is exactly as classy as you’re picturing.
After 10 p.m., about 100 unassuming Applebees locations turn into nightclubs. Half of that number are located in Florida alone. Blacklights are turned on for Full Moon Parties, a DJ spins, Sunday nights feature S.I.N. parties for those in the service industry, and luaus, trivia events, and karaoke nights are held periodically. Loud music starts to pump and fancy lights illuminate the dance floor (which is kind of everywhere, it sounds like, since there isn’t a lot of open space in the standard Applebees bar area). Club Applebees isn’t officially promoted by Applebees, but the chain does have a website that discloses all of the locations that offer the late-night club atmosphere. The site, clubapplebees.com, has a photo gallery page, but it is currently under maintenance.
Applebees has a reputation of being a family restaurant, but they have also tried to capitalize on the bar market by staying open later. About 80 percent of locations stay open until midnight or later; now the Club Applebees locations stay open until 2 a.m. Staying open past kids’ bedtimes is a great way to stay family-friendly during the day while increasing late-night alcohol sales. A few locations started being clubs back in 2010, but the news only broke in the media this August.
Based on photos posted on Business Insider, the activities that go on after-hours in Club Applebees are far from family-friendly. Photos show a young-looking crowd with plastic cups dancing on the bar, women making out with each other while looking at the camera (a classic sign of looking for attention) and women in various states of mouth-to-body-part contact with cans of whipped cream. Business Insider notes that the club is often packed, though some of the partygoers are a little sketchy-looking. There is even a video on YouTube titled “Girls night out @ Applebees… Club Applebees” that shows a man giving a woman a lap dance and simulating oral sex on her. It’s so raunchy that it has been age-restricted. In comparison, I think the raunchiest thing that ever happened at my local Applebees was when I had to discreetly fish a crumb out of my bra while eating…
Applebees currently has no plans to expand the nightclub idea nationally. However, they will continue the “open til midnight or later” ad campaign. Some non-Club Applebees, like the location nearest me, hold trivia and karaoke nights without turning into a nightclub. Perhaps this is a step toward becoming a late-night hotspot…