Most of us know Applebee’s as a familiar chain restaurant. Every town seems to have one, and the menu and ambiance don’t differ much from one to the other. What you may not know, is that Applebee’s actually has its roots in Georgia. Back before the sit-down chain had more than 2,000 locations nationwide, it had just one in Decatur.
The Treasure: The first Applebee’s (sort of.) While you can’t go to Decatur and walk into the first Applebee’s, you can walk into an Applebee’s restaurant on Memorial Drive that is standing in the exact same spot as the original. You won’t be able to say you’re eating at the very first Applebee’s, but you’ll be eating at the very first Applebee’s location.
The Background: Back in 1980, Bill Palmer and his wife TJ wanted to start a restaurant. They had a vision for their mom and pop neighborhood dining option, and they had picked out the perfect name, Appleby’s. Unfortunately, the name “Appleby’s” was already registered with the state, so they had to come up with something different. After considering a couple of other options, the couple decided to change the spelling and stick TJ’s name in front of it. The original Applebee’s was named T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs. Yes, folks, even in 1980, Decatur was into alternative medicine.
It didn’t take long before the concept of a neighborhood grill caught on spurring the Palmers to open a second location on Buford Highway. In 1983, they sold the concept to a franchising company, and by 1986, the restaurant became a franchise. Also in 1986, the name changed to the much more familiar Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar.
Where to find it: The location of the first Applebee’s is 4705 Memorial Drive in Decatur.
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