(NEXSTAR) — Applebee is responding to backlash to a recent email from an executive working for a franchisee.
The CEO, identified as Wayne Pankratz of American Franchise Capital, sent an email to colleagues claiming that rising gas prices and inflation are actually good for business. Pankratz’s thinking, he explained to district managers, is that higher prices will force more people into the workforce, allowing Applebee to hire “lower pay” employees than it did before.
We are no longer competing with the government when it comes to employment. The stimulus money is no longer there, the supplemental unemployment is no more. This benefits us as prices go up, people… who rely on unemployment money, will simply have less money to spend. It will force people back into the work force.”
He added that some “parent companies, pop companies or small businesses” are likely to fail given rising costs, sending more potential employees into the hiring pool.
Bankrates also acknowledged that “most of our employee base and potential employee base live off their paychecks for pay,” and some “will need to work more hours or get a second job” to maintain their current living standards.
“Do things to make sure you are the employer of choice,” he advised. “Get completed schedules early so they can plan their other jobs around your job. Most importantly, have the culture and environment that will attract people.”
American Franchise Capital (AFC) has more than 100 restaurants in the Midwest, including Applebee and Taco Bell locations, according to Kansas City Star. Pankratz’s LinkedIn profile, where he was described as Applebee’s chief operating officer, has been deleted this week.
Kevin Carroll, Applebee’s chief operating officer, appears to confirm the email’s legitimacy in a statement shared with Nexstar, but said the opinions given by the memo’s author are not in line with the company’s.
“This is one’s opinion,” Carroll wrote, “not Appleby’s.” This issue is addressed internally by the franchisee who employs that individual who owns and operates the restaurants in this market. Our team members are the lifeblood of our restaurants, and franchisees always strive to reward and motivate team members, new and existing, to stay within the Applebee family.”
The AFC representative added that Bankrates “did not have the authority to set our company’s brand policy or anything else”, and suggested he “may have written it in the middle of the night”.
“The main message here is that this does not in any way, shape, or form speak to our politics or culture or anything like that with our brand,” the spokesperson told the Kansas City Star.
Despite statements from Applebee and the AFC, saying they would address the issue, the leaked email actually left a bad taste in customers’ mouths.
“Imagine celebrating that your employees don’t earn enough to live and feel so happy that you will be able to pay them *even less* because they are now more desperate,” he wrote. 1 LinkedIn user.
“I am grateful that many restaurants show us that they are run by completely careless people. I ordered takeaway 90% less than I used to, many stores were blacklisted, my wallet and my health improved,” said a Twitter user.
Naturally, workers also felt insulted by the email, which led to three managers at Applebee’s in Lawrence, Kansas, resigning from their jobs, one worker told Lawrence World Magazine. The restaurant was temporarily closed on Tuesday.
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