Restaurant News

"Club Apple" Rocks Applebee's Late Night Around the Country, But Not in Houston...Yet

If you're one of the connoisseurs of fine cuisine people who eats at Applebee's on a regular basis, you might have noticed that they remain open until 2 a.m. all over Houston. Why would a family dining establishment stay open that late? Because at night, Applebee's transforms into a lively bar scene with black light parties, karaoke and some pretty risqué dancing. Or at least, it's rumored to.

A few years ago, some rather scandalous photos began circulating the Internet of a late-night party at Applebee's. This, the photos seemed to announce to the world, is not your mother's Applebee's. There were scantily clad women spraying whipped cream all over their bodies and making out with each other while dancing on the bar. It seemed like a good time, but, according to Applebee's representative Dan Smith, not indicative of the Applebee's late night concept across the country.

Locally, I couldn't find any Applebee's that transform into party scenes after dinner hours, but I was assured that something akin to a Club Applebee's might be in Houston's future.

"Bee's Late Night is three very specific things," says Smith of the concept. "First, the restaurant stays open until midnight or later. Second, it's about offering half price appetizers. And then Bee's Late Night is about delivering another great reason to come in every day and have responsible fun close to home."

Wait, "responsible fun"? That doesn't sound like fun!

Smith explained that it's up to the individual franchises what they want to do with the Late Night concept. Some particularly successful franchises in Florida host black light parties every full moon. They also offer karaoke on a regular basis and have promotions like "Top Shelf Tuesday" and "Girls Night Out" on Wednesday.

When I called local Applebee's to inquire about late night fun, several of the people who I spoke to seemed super confused. A few people told me that they used to do a Club Apple-type thing, but they don't do it anymore. At the Applebee's on Northwest Freeway, the manager likes to dim the lights on Thursday nights and turn up the jukebox "so it's like a club." That same Applebee's is getting a renovation in September, and the person I spoke to said they might bring back more of a club vibe once the renovations are complete.

According to Smith, the renovations are part of a company-wide plan to modernize Applebee's, so every restaurant will receive a remodel by the end of 2014.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm hoping the renovations mean all Applebee's in Houston will have a late night club in the next few years. There are few things I enjoy more at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday than dancing on bars next to a family of five going to town on a plate of Potato Twisters.

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Kaitlin Steinberg