Two area Applebee’s shut down, including first one in KC market

The Watts Mill Applebee’s was the first for the metro.
The Watts Mill Applebee’s was the first for the metro.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar has closed two area locations, including the first one to open in the Kansas City market three decades ago.

The Watts Mill Plaza restaurant, at 1046 W. 103rd St., opened in mid-1986 with an “atrium area, lush with greenery” — the chain’s decor trademark — and menu items that included Buffalo chicken wings and swordfish.

Prices started at $3.25 for a “big hamburger” and it received two-and-a-half stars for food, service and atmosphere from the Kansas City Star’s restaurant reviewer.

At the time, Applebee’s had only eight units in Atlanta, two in Dallas and one in Houston. It is now one of the world’s largest restaurant brands with about 1,900 locations internationally.

But it also recently closed an Olathe location.

The freestanding restaurant, at 14860 Kansas 7, opened in 1997 on the outskirts of the Great Mall of the Great Plains. The mall officially opened later that year at Interstate 35 and 151st St. but closed in mid-2015 and demolition started this summer.

An Applebee’s spokesman issued this statement: “From time to time, like other brands with large, national footprints, locations close. Restaurant closures occur for many reasons ranging from changes in trade areas to lease and franchise agreement expirations. Applebee’s and the franchise owner remain committed to the Kansas City market with 21 locations. An additional indication of our franchisee’s confidence in Kansas City comes from their recent remodel of the Johnson Drive and Blue Springs locations in the market.”

In 2015, Applebee’s moved its headquarters from Kansas City to Glendale, Calif., the home of its parent company, DineEquity Inc.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC