The Duncan Banner

December 6, 2012

Applebee's training adds excitement as opening day nears

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — The construction of Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Duncan is almost complete with the inside filled with a hubbub of excitement during the new employee training sessions this week.

This weekend, the restaurant will open for invited guests only to give the employees a chance to practice their newly-learned skills and to give selected members of the community a preview of the service and taste they can expect from the restaurant.

The restaurant, at 2002 N. Highway 81, in front of the new Holiday Inn Express and between Pizza Hut and Urgent Med, will be open to the public after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on Monday.

“Friday night will be a friends and family night,” General Manager John McKinney said. “The staff brings in three guests each. Saturday will be our V.I.N. Night, which is Very Important Neighbor. As far as Sunday, we are closed kind of just to recap everything. Then, we will open up with the ribbon cutting on Monday morning.”

The new restaurant has employed about 120 people within the community and McKinney said their staffing numbers are on target right now in every position.

Working to open a restaurant is not only a new experience for many of the restaurants employees but also for McKinney. Corporate training staff has been brought in to help him and the new employees learn what is necessary before opening.

“This is my first store opening,” he said. “The training staff has really surprised me as far as their energy, the organization and the structure.”

Right now, Applebee’s managers are focusing on preparing employees for the first days of life at the restaurant. McKinney said that training employees before a restaurant opens involves a lot of acting out scenarios that the employees might be faced with.

“They role play with each other,” he said. “One is the employee and one is the guest.”

For community members that have never eaten at an Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill, McKinney said they should expect to find a fun atmosphere with top-notch service and consistent food when they visit.

“That is something we are really passionate about,” he said. “Servers will get involved with the tables as far as what brings them here and how their day is. There is going to be sports and stuff in the bar. It is going to be productive and clean. We want to ensure that everyone leaves happy.”

Originally from Amarillo, Texas, McKinney has worked with Applebee’s for about 10 1/2 years now.

“I am from Amarillo,” he said. “That is where I started in Applebee’s. I was a server for three months and then I cross-trained in the kitchen.”

Since then, McKinney has attended management training in Lincoln, Neb., and held various management positions in stores in Wichita Falls, Texas; Amarillo, Texas and Lawton.

“I am really excited about this opportunity. I know how long Duncan has been waiting,” McKinney said.

“Aside from this being my first opening, I am really excited about opening and doing everything we can for the community, our employees and our guests.”