Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Applebee’s Review: A Long Time Coming

Posted in dining healthy, food and dining, reviews by commorancy on June 16, 2021

When I visit restaurants, timeliness of a review is paramount. Even just a month or two later, the entire restaurant staff could have changed and along with them, a restaurant’s bad practices. However, with this particular situation, I don’t really even care if that specific restaurant location is open any longer. Yes, there is still an Applebee’s open in that specific town and at that location. Let’s explore.

Restaurant Visit

Around 1990, I visited an Applebee’s in a small Texas town about a 20 minute drive away from my college. I didn’t know much about this restaurant when I visited, nor that it was even a chain of restaurants. This was to be my very first visit to an Applebee’s. When I arrived, I thought that the interior felt quite a lot like Chili’s. Even the menu appeared mostly like Chili’s. Because it had so much of a Chili’s vibe, it felt quite comfortable visiting. Yes, I was taken in by that. I visited this restaurant around 1:30PM for a late lunch. My classes were done for the day and I had decided to take a drive and get some lunch. As I said above, the college isn’t located in this town and is a 20 minute drive away by Interstate.

It’s common for this college’s students to visit this somewhat larger town because it has better grocery stores, more diverse restaurants, bigger restaurant chains and a much bigger Walmart. It’s also way less of a drive than the 1 hour it takes to drive into Dallas. Dallas trips were reserved for specific shopping, which was not available when out in the boonies. Keep in mind that Amazon wasn’t yet a glimmer in anyone’s eye, so ordering online wasn’t yet a thing. Driving into Dallas was the only option for obtaining such items as drafting supplies, for example. I digress.

Anyway, around 1:30PM I pull into the Applebee’s parking lot. I enter. I’m seated relatively quickly and order a chicken with veggies meal. The service is average, similar to Chili’s. My drink arrives quickly. I can’t tell you exactly which chicken dish I ordered, but it may have had grilled chicken of some variety in some kind of sauce along with broccoli, green beans and/or corn. It could have even been Chicken Piccata, which is not grilled. The meal actually tasted fine. It wasn’t super outstanding, but it wasn’t undercooked or overcooked. Mind you, I hadn’t eaten any meals at all before this meal as I typically chose not eat breakfast during my college years. This bit of information is needed for what happens next. I finish my meal around 2PM, pay the check and leave.

Shopping

Immediately following the Applebee’s visit, I decide to shop the local Walmart, which is incidentally very close, and a couple of other stores so as to not waste the drive. Around 40 minutes after eating the meal and while shopping, I feel begin feeling intestinal distress, like I need to visit the toilet. I do, but then quickly head back to the car. I still have a 20 minute drive back and intestinal distress typically prevents further shopping.

I had gotten maybe around 40 minutes into my shopping spree before cutting it short after the toilet visit. Cramping and intestinal churning is not too unusual right before having a loose stool. I wasn’t that concerned, but I decided to leave the store. By the time I reach the car, it worsened quickly at about the 45 minute mark, when I felt flu-like symptoms wash over me including fever and chills. That’s when I realized it was food poisoning. I hopped back in the car and waited about 5 minutes longer to see if would subside. It didn’t. I drove to the nearest drug store, bought a few things to help with symptoms including a Tylenol and Pepto, took them and and drove the 20 minutes back.

Nothing comes on that fast other than food poisoning, particularly flu-like symptoms. I wasn’t in a position try any methods of getting the food out and by then it was pretty much too late anyway. Around that time during my college years, I might have been considered to have an iron constitution… that is, I could eat pretty much anything, though occasionally I did have bouts of loose stools. Of course, in 2021, that situation has changed a lot. I’m much more selective on what I eat today than what I was eating in the early 90s. I also have way more sensitivities today than back then.

On the drive home, it was clear, Applebee’s was the culprit. I believe at the time, that restaurant may have been new, having opened perhaps only a few months prior. I wasn’t sure exactly when that restaurant had opened, though. I didn’t much keep up with that sort of thing. Upon visiting, it did seem relatively new. Still, it’s clear that restaurant’s food handling and storage practices at that location were questionable. Other than feeling lousy the whole way home, the drive back was uneventful. Though, I did visit the toilet a few more times, then hopped into bed for the remainder of the day. On the way home, I recall thinking that I should have eaten at the Golden Corral instead. Even though Golden Corral’s buffet was more expensive and the foods were worse in quality, I’d eaten there many times without problems.

That would be the first and last time I ate at an Applebee’s.

Two Months

I’ll spare you the details of what transpired exactly, but suffice it to say that it took approximately two months before I regained my similarly standard constitution, except it wasn’t. Before Applebee’s, I really didn’t have too many food allergies or food problems and could eat almost anything. During that two month recovery window, I seemed to have developed way more food sensitivities. Though, not for chicken. A couple of times I would even have to visit the hospital for epinephrine shots after I ended up with full body hives after consuming foods that hadn’t caused prior problems. At the time, I disconnected these health events, but I’ve since connected them together with the food poisoning event being the starting point.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

In the early 1990s, there were no such sites like Yelp. Thus, no way to post an immediate review of a restaurant. Thankfully, we now have such review sites where such reviews can be posted. Unfortunately, because this event was before those review sites existed, it meant the loss of opportunity to post this review.

Even if I had called the restaurant to discuss the event, the manager would likely have only given me conciliatory coupons to visit again with a promise to do better. No thanks. That’s like putting fuel on a fire. Once I get that sick from eating at a restaurant, I don’t eat there again. Coupons don’t cut it.

The only thing I can presently equate with this restaurant and the Applebee’s name is feeling severely ill. There’s no way I can visit any restaurants in this chain and feel good about it. To this day, I have never visited another Applebee’s. I won’t visit any in the future, either. If Applebee’s food handling and storage practices are poor enough to cause that level of food poisoning once, I simply can’t trust any of the restaurants in this chain. Perhaps that specific location had poor management practices at the time which led to the food poisoning, but I simply can’t trust that it was solely a local issue. Once I get sick at a restaurant chain, it disgusts me thinking about visiting again. There’s just nothing appetizing at all about Applebee’s. Whenever I see an Applebee’s advertisement, I mute it and leave the room until it’s over.

The reason I have decided to write this article at all is that Applebee’s seems to be ratcheting up their TV advertising. I’ve decided to convey my very old story in hopes that someone else who might have also been food poisoned by Applebee’s can sound off here.

Typically, if a restaurant’s food handling practices are improper, it goes deeper and affects more outlets than one in a chain. If you have gotten sick eating at Applebee’s, please leave a comment below describing your circumstances.

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