New Applebee’s to open in November

Second restaurant to add 50-60 jobs

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Workers raise trusses for the new Applebee’s restaurant near Costco on Wednesday morning.

By early November, Kalispell will have two Applebee’s restaurants.

Construction is under way for a new Applebee’s at Spring Prairie Center near Costco, with a target opening date of Nov. 7, according to Eric Whirley, Applebee’s Montana operations director.

The existing Applebee’s restaurant on U.S. 2 in Evergreen will remain open.

“With the geographical separation of the two restaurants, it’s like serving two communities,” Whirley said. “And we’re proud to say the development will add 50 to 60 jobs to the local economy.”

The staff for the restaurant will be a mix of full- and part-time positions.

Steve Wilson, general manager at the existing Applebee’s, will serve as general manager of the new restaurant. Hiring will begin soon, Whirley said. Prospective employees should watch for classified advertisements in the newspaper or contact the local Job Service office in Kalispell.

The new restaurant will be 5,200 square feet, a little bit smaller than the existing Applebee’s, but the seating capacity is the same.

“The new restaurant will be an entirely new design,” he said, noting that the decor will be contemporary, with “a lot of clean lines.” Large murals will feature local scenes showcasing Flathead Valley landmarks.

Whirley acknowledged that parking will be a little tight at the new site. However, based on Applebee’s experience with other restaurants built on smaller lots,  it’s workable, he said.

The franchise for both Applebee’s restaurants in Kalispell is owned by members of the Ryan family with Ryan Restaurant Group, which also owns Famous Dave’s just north of the new Applebee’s.

Applebee’s began in 1980 when Bill and T.J. Palmer opened T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs in Atlanta, Ga., focusing on the neighborhood bar and grill concept.

The Palmers sold the Applebee’s concept to W.R. Grace and Co. in 1983, and by 1988 Abe Gustin and John Hamra purchased the rights to the Applebee’s concept from Grace, according to the Applebee’s website.

An initial public offering of common stock was completed in 1989, and Applebee’s went on to have an exceptional decade of growth during the 1990s. The Evergreen Applebee’s was built in 1996.

Today there are more than 2,000 Applebee’s restaurants in 49 states and 16 countries.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at

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