Over the last 17 years has become a familiar site in Tewksbury. Located on Route 38 at the junction of Route 495 it is one of those places that people are simply used to seeing every day.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that, while Applebee’s still boasts the same friendly service and welcoming atmosphere that it’s famous for, it also has a whole new look that might surprise you.
These days Applebee’s guests will still find themselves greeted with the smiling face they have come to expect but, at the same time, they will be “wowed” by a full front to back, inside and out renovation.
General Manager Michael Calandrello could not be happier with his customer reactions.
“It’s the ‘wow’ factor that everyone is enjoying," he said. "People come in and they are absolutely shocked. The new look is bright, wide open, lively and modern."
When Applebee’s parent company, Apple American Group, LLC, decided to make a change to the Tewksbury location, they wanted it to be a complete makeover.
“Apple American really wanted to make our Applebee’s location new again,” explained Calandrello. “Everything is brand new including the carpets, the woodwork, the bar and the artifacts. In addition, about 90 percent of the kitchen is new and modern.”
Calandrello has been at the Tewksbury Applebee’s location for seven years and, on average, staff members have at least 10 years of experience.
“Our turnover is very low and we are proud to employee a large number of Tewksbury residents like myself,” said Calandrello. “Our Applebee’s is a fun place to work and, thanks to that, my employee retention is phenomenal."
With so many local residents on staff, Tewksbury Applebee’s has always taken pride in supporting the local community and, according to Calandrello that is something that will never change.
“As a Tewksbury resident I take pride in the fact that we are here to support the community in a number of different ways," he said.
Perhaps the most important day of the year to Calandrello and his staff is Veterans Day. That’s when veterans eat free at Applebee’s and, as Calandrello said, “everyone wants to work and be a part of the fun.” Thousands of veterans come to enjoy a free meal each year and the event has become a local favorite.
In addition to supporting local veterans Applebee’s hosts a seemingly endless stream of school and sports fundraisers. These events are fun-filled evenings where families can come in, enjoy a relaxing meal and know that 15 percent of the sales will go directly back to their school or sport. The restaurant also actively supports the Patriotic Committee and various other charities and events throughout the town.
Local pride is key at Applebee’s and the new décor is focused on everything from Boston Sports themes to local athletes and landmarks. With themes ranging from the Red Sox and Patriots to High School Football and the , Applebee’s is a showroom for community as well as New England pride.
Even the new, improved menu has a local twist to it.
“We are now able to offer both regional and seasonal new menu items,” explained Calandrello. “It has made a world of difference and, in my opinion, made the menu ten times better.”
In spite of the changes to the menu, the building and even their cooking techniques there is one thing that Calandrello plans to keep exactly the same.
“We are diligent about engaging our customers and really making a connection with them,” said Calandrello. “That is something that will never change. We are always the ‘friendliest’ in the scope of the Applebee’s surveys and my team plans to keep it that way.”
Teamwork is what Calandrello and his Applebee’s employees are all about and the restaurant chain’s new “See you tomorrow” slogan simply reinforces what they have always done. “We want our guests to become regulars and come back often,” he explained. “If they normally come in once a week we want to see them twice and if they come in twice we want to see them three times.”
The new layout boasts fourteen televisions along with a vibrant bar atmosphere. That doesn’t mean, however, that it doesn’t remain the same family friendly place that it has always been. “We cater to a very diverse and eclectic crowd,” explained Calandrello. “Applebee’s Tewksbury is a perfect fit for anyone looking for a relaxing meal.”