Applebee’s back in business after fire

Applebee’s has a grand reopening at a location they had called home for decades.

On Nov, 13, Applebee’s officially reopened its doors for business near the intersection of Welsh Road and Roosevelt Boulevard, with the reopening coming almost 16 months after the restaurant had burnt down.

On July 16, 2016, a fire started inside the walls of the Applebee’s during the late afternoon while customers were dining.

The Philadelphia Fire Department was called onto the scene as customers evacuated the building. Scott Sladek, deputy chief of special operations command for the PFD, responded to the scene that day.

“When we showed up, we had what we consider light to medium smoke showing from the building.” Sladek said. “The first in company thought it may have been a kitchen fire, but here it was actually inside the front walls and already up in the ceiling area. The fire basically was burning in the wall of the ceiling where people were dining that night.”

Sladek recalled the difficulty of getting into the ceilings to fight the fire that day. Efforts to extinguish the fire from the exterior of the building were successful.

No firefighters sustained critical injuries, although one was treated for heat exhaustion.

“Permanent electrical wiring ended up being the cause of the fire.” said Sladek.

Despite the building being burnt down, there wasn’t much hesitation that Applebee’s would once again return to the location, said Jeff Warden, CEO of the Applebee’s franchise for the Rose Group.

“We knew right away we wanted to rebuild it.” he said. “But we also knew we wanted to build something bigger and better for the community.”

The new restaurant is the first Applebee’s in Philadelphia with the company’s new interior design. It includes approximately 25 more seats and 1,200 more square feet in addition to more televisions and a large wrap-around bar.

Jason Rose, vice president of real estate for the Rose Group, was excited to report that there are now 14 beers on tap in comparison to six just a year ago.

The new restaurant employs 120 people, including 20 of those who had previously worked at that very same Applebee’s.

“We’ve always been really well accepted in the Northeast,” said Warden. “The fact that we have so many of our old employees still here really makes a difference, it brings back the community.”

The Rose Group also wanted to thank the Philadelphia Fire Department for its service on that night and made a plaque with a firefighter’s ax to show appreciation.

Sladek knows how being a firefighter can be a thankless job, but appreciates the recognition from the Rose Group.

“Sometimes we kind of are the forgotten ones.” Sladek said. “It’s nice when the community and companies like Applebee’s go out of their way to thank us.”

The Rose Group owns and operates 56 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar restaurants in Eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware. ••