The parent company of Applebee's and International House of Pancakes (IHOP) recently announced that they were exploring the idea of launching restaurant locations that would combine the two brands in one location.

With this announcement and one of the two brands having a presence in Northern Minnesota, does that mean a combination restaurant could be coming to places like Duluth? Let's take a look at what the company has said so far.

Dine Brands, which owns both Applebee's and IHOP, has opened a handful of combination locations in international locations, including a recently-opened location in Mexico. In an interview with Nation's Restaurant News, the company's CEO said "There’s a lot to like about these prototypes", signaling an expansion of this type of restaurant.

What would these Applebee's-IHOP combination restaurants look like?

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The company's CEO explained that these co-branded locations would have "discreet entrances", one for each of the brands. Once inside, customers would be able to "flow between" the two sides of the restaurant - one more dedicated to IHOP and the other more to Applebee's.

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As part of the explanation of this hybrid restaurant, the CEO used the example that during breakfast time, for example, the IHOP side of the business may be busier, but the entire space could be used for seating during busy times.

While there would be a blended two-sided "front of house", there would be a shared "back of house" for food prep and other behind-the-scenes tasks.

Dine Brands' CEO has said that the experimental locations have been pretty profitable and successful, noting that the two brands are "complimentary".

When could IHOP-Applebee's combination restaurants be coming to the Northland?

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While there have been no specific locations identified for expanding this concept into the United States yet, the company's CEO highlighted how their brands fit in big cities and small towns alike.

While IHOP locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin are limited to the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Wausau, Green Bay, and southeastern Wisconsin locations like Madison and Milwaukee, the Applebee's footprint expands much further northward.

Applebee's locations can be found in Duluth, Superior, Bemidji, Brainerd, and Rice Lake as well as those larger cities further south.

This new hybrid model could be a path to see IHOP expand into the Northland. The company's CEO highlighted how a store with the square footage of one restaurant could make significantly more income with both brands available. This means with a little remodeling, it would be a pretty easy transition to bring IHOP further north to places in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

When could that happen?

Dine Brands' CEO says they could start rolling out these new hybrid restaurants as soon as the first quarter of 2025. It is likely to be a slow rollout, but I feel like a place like Duluth could be the perfect place for an early hybrid IHOP-Applebee's location! We'll just have to wait and see, however.

24 Outstanding Places To Grab Dessert In The Twin Ports Area

Whether you're looking to celebrate a special occasion or just want to treat yourself to a special treat, here are some incredible places to go out for dessert in the Duluth - Superior area.

For this list, we look at places with on-location seating to enjoy your treat. We also decided to not include exclusive ice cream and frozen yogurt places. While ice cream and fro-yo are delicious, most people know where to find great ice cream in the area.

Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper

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