Now in its full form, the one and only IHOP-Applebee’s hybrid was released into downtown Detroit on Tuesday, June 26. The restaurant is located at the base of the Millender Center in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott Detroit Downtown hotel.
IHOPplebee’s or Beehop as some of its handlers like to call it debuted initially for breakfast in late May and has been slowly ramping up service. As of today, the East Jefferson Avenue establishment now serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and happy hour.
The restaurant, which boldly combines two casual chains into one super casual chain, was developed by local franchisee TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants (the group that opened Detroit’s first Applebee’s within city limits three short years ago). It occupies an 11,939-square-foot space formerly home to Sweet Lorraine’s.
Opening director Jeff Pittel tells Eater that the idea to fuse two familiar restaurants was born of necessity. General Motors had asked TEAM Schostak to step in and develop the space as an Applebee’s. However, the fact that it was located inside a Marriott hotel meant it had to offer breakfast — something Applebee’s doesn’t serve. Applebee’s and IHOP share a parent company called Dine Brands (formerly Dine Equity), which eventually approved of the untested restaurant mashup.
At the location customers can expect breakfast-only in the mornings from 6:30 a.m to 11 a.m. with a transition into a combined IHOP-Applebee’s menu during lunch and dinner. Due to daunting nature of serving both menus, the location has also edited down the items. There are, for example, no IHOP burgers, because the restaurant is serving Applebee’s burgers. The location is also not participating in Applebee’s $1 cocktail promotions.
Due to its unique format, the IHOPplebee’s looks different from some of the other chain locations customers may be familiar with. The restaurant is relatively open with the square Applebee’s bar located right up front to serve as a hotel bar people staying at the Marriott.
Next to the bar and also facing towards the lobby is a breakfast stand called Coffee Bar by IHOP that’s one of approximately three locations in the country. The stand features espresso drinks and on-the-go items like breakfast sandwiches. Pittel says the coffee bar also serves as the location for all to-go meals from the regular IHOP-Applebee’s menu. People staying at the hotel can order a meal by phone, but must come and pick up the order at the counter (read: no room service) and the same goes for people living and working in the area who want a grab-and-go meal. Because the restaurant offers a combination of both IHOP and Applebee’s menus, there’s no app-integrated ordering available for the location at this time, but Pittel says the company is working on a solution.
The main dining room features several distinct spaces including an “IHOP cafe” that looks a lot like a mini version of the traditional all-day breakfast restaurant with blue and red accents and big pictures of pancakes. Towards the back of the restaurant there’s a hotel-style breakfast and lunch buffet that serves IHOP and Applebee’s items. Patrons can, for example, pickup a “fast lane lunch” for $12 Monday through Friday with a selection of daily specials like tacos and fiesta lime chicken.
Several seating areas that will be used primarily during lunch and dinner service reflect more of an Applebee’s aesthetic with references to Detroit, including a lounge with soft couches, flatscreens, and fireplaces. The restaurant also includes a 16-seat conference room.
With so many different spaces and options, the layout and combined menu might be jarring for customers who are familiar with both restaurants. “We’ve just got to be on a swivel and help direct them and welcome to the world’s first IHOP-Applebee’s and show them to a table or they can sit down and we’ll find them,” Pittel says of the possible confusion. “We’ve just got to be open, because people tend to use hotels however they feel like it.”
Asked whether the Detroit location might be a testing ground for more future co-branded restaurants, Pittel says the company might be looking at doing one more, but he doesn’t know of any plans to scale to format.
IHOP-Applebee’s is located at 333 E Jefferson Ave. in Detroit; open for breakfast-only from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily with a combined IHOP-Applebee’s menu.
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