It’s no secret this pandemic has hit restaurants particularly hard. Arcade restaurants like Chuck E. Cheese and sit-down chains like Applebee’s are especially hard hit because they're not especially well-known for their takeaway or delivery options. Who is eating Chuck’s pizza if not for a tiny human’s birthday? Who is hoping Applebee’s ribs somehow survive delivery?
Both eateries know all we want from them are ball pits and $1 sugar cocktails, so both quietly rebranded on Grubhub to pick up delivery orders from unsuspecting locals about a month ago, as confirmed today, by Today.
Are these brands actually different? — In statements to Today, both companies claim these are slightly different, possibly better restaurants. Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings is named after Chuck E. Cheese character Pasquale and promises better pizza despite using the same kitchen. Pasqually’s ratchets up the quality with a “thicker crust, extra sauce and new blends of cheeses and seasonings” to give customers “a more flavorful, more premium pizza experience." Why this wasn't offered to in-person patrons before isn't clear.
Applebee’s essentially broke off its familiar wings into a new restaurant and is using the name Neighborhood Wings to test out new flavors. Some products are only available for delivery from the spinoff, not Applebee’s main restaurant listings. “As we continue to learn from this brand extension, we will be introducing additional innovation to meet our guests' demands,” Scott Gladstone, vice president of Applebee's strategy and development said.
A carefully crafted response — Rumors of these “brand extensions” have circulated online for roughly a month, so the chains have had some time to craft their responses. If they’re meant to be a part of the overall brand, why were they launched without fanfare or any iconography that would associate the new restaurants with their parent companies? Something smells, and it’s not just the wings.