Applebee's Dollarita Win-Win For Chain, Happily Buzzed Customers

Earlier this month, Applebee’s brought back its infamous Dollarita, a two-ounce house margarita for $1 for the month of October. Considering you’d be hard pressed to find ANY bar ANYWHERE offering ANYTHING for $1, it’s not surprising that the promo is a hit with Applebee’s regulars and new customers alike.

Some on social media have pondered that Applebee’s will lose food purchases due to customers getting too drunk to order. While it is difficult to know the actual return on such a promotion, with a little help from a Los Angeles bar manager, QSR Insider was able to determine  that Applebee’s estimated cost per Dollarita roughly comes out to 5-10 CENTS per drink. With food prices so unpredictable, alcohol prices have remained relatively stable. Thus the Dollarita is a win-win for both the chain and customers, food or not. The staff making the drinks are a higher expense to Applebee’s than the drinks themselves.

The drink is made from well tequila and lime and  the chain has added triple sec this year for a more “authentic taste,” according to the company.

And predictably the internet has responded to the promotion, mostly with plenty of drunken humor.

An Instagram search for Dollarita results in innumerable posts re: the promotion. One making the social rounds is a picture of a man passed out face down on the sidewalk in front of an undisclosed Applebee’s with the caption “Did someone say $1 margaritas?” Another shows a humorous vintage pic of David Lee Roth being arrested only wearing a towel, with the caption: “Me leaving Applebee’s the way God intended.” Another depicts a group calling themselves the “Dollarita Hunters” enjoying several of rounds of the $1 drink.

Facebook also has hundreds of posts of people displaying their drunken antics after a night at Applebee’s—from people passed out at bus stops to another of a woman who apparently showed up to Applebee’s with her own microphone to belt out karaoke for her birthday after a few Dollaritas.

Some posts slam the chain for “cutting them off” after a few Dollaritas, but this was obviously not the case for the examples above.

Applebee’s has used the Dollarita in the past to boost slow sales. It was first introduced in 2017 during a slump, after which the company subsequently posted four consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. The promotion has returned several times since, with the company citing customer demand for the most recent return. Dine Brand’s (Applebee’s parent company) CEO John Peyton also commented on the chain’s August earnings call that guests have become more conscious of their dining expenses, and that ordering limited-time and value offers from Applebee's menus had increased to 19% in the second quarter, compared to 15% in the first. 

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