Casual dining chain comes to Oak Harbor

The first Applebee’s restaurant in Island County will officially open Monday morning just north of SE Eighth Street off Highway 20 in Oak Harbor.

On Friday, some people got a sneak peek of what the restaurant will offer. Applebee’s opened its doors to serve a free lunch and dinner to employees’ friends and family.

Apple American, the parent company of the local restaurant and a franchisee of the Applebee’s chain, had been looking to open an Applebee’s in Oak Harbor for the past three to four years.

“With the population of Oak Harbor and the population of Whidbey Island, we felt the need for a casual dining restaurant such as ourselves,” said Apple American President of Operations Dan Krebsbach.

He said the company had waited to open a restaurant until it found an ideal location. That was created when the Hope Depot shopping area was developed along Highway 20.

The restaurant offers a menu with more than 60 items, most competitively priced between eight and nine dollars. Entree items range from steaks to fajitas to dinner salads, and the restaurant even offers a special Weight Watchers menu.

Kresbach said Applebee’s also features special food promotions at least six to seven times per year, with new entrees added to the standard menu.

Since the restaurant is designed as a “neighborhood grill and bar,” the decor reflects the community. One wall prominently features NAS Whidbey memorabilia, including patches and photos of Prowler airplanes.

The Applebee’s bar has also been recognized by Evening Magazine three years in a row as having the “best happy hour.” Applebee’s happy hour takes place daily from 3 to 6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. until closing.

In addition to providing casual dining, Applebee’s also strives to give back to the community. Kresbach said the restaurant always participates in local fundraisers by offering gift certificates, and occasionally even hosts special events.

“We’re just really excited to be here in Oak Harbor,” Kresbach said. “We think we’re a really good fit for the community.”

The Oak Harbor Applebee’s will likely be the only restaurant the company opens on Whidbey Island, as Oak Harbor is the county’s population center.

Apple American operates 20 Applebees restaurants in Western Washington, from Bellingham south to their newest restaurant in Chehalis.

Applebee’s International, Inc., headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., develops, franchises and operates casual dining restaurants in 49 states and 12 countries under the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar brand.

With nearly 1,700 restaurants, it bills itself as the largest casual dining restaurant concept in the world.

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