It's a case of Yin and Yang gone horribly wrong. Applebee's has become, since its launch in the '80s, one of the most successful restaurant franchise operations in America. It has also become synonomous with what's wrong with franchise restaurants in that they dumb down a destination's culinary options by their ham-handed cookie-cutter approach.
Possibly because of its very size (or, that it's now owned and operated by a legacy corporation that has no more idea about Social Media than an IHOP is known for culinary hipness), the Applebee's meltdown that played out over the past few days was not unexpected...but, yet, still fascinating to watch.
I've seen a lot of analysis of all the mistakes that were made...but none like this from R.L. Stoler. Regardless of how you feel about Applebee's, this is a case study that should be de rigueur for any future Crisis Management course.