Applebee's Franchise Exec Proposes Paying Employees Less in Response to Rising Gas Prices

An Applebee's franchise executive, who owns a reported 50 locations in the U.S., floats the idea of paying lower wages in response to an increase in applicants.

Applebee's restaurant logo on wall above entrance.

Applebee's restaurant logo on wall above entrance, northern Idaho.

Applebee's restaurant logo on wall above entrance.

TMZ has obtained an internal email sent by an Applebee’s franchise executive suggesting that the company’s best response to rising gas prices would be lowering the wages of new potential employees.

Wayne Pankratz, an exec for American Franchise Capital, which owns a reported 50 Applebee’s locations across the Midwest, believes the restaurant could benefit from a number of factors, including inflation, the gas price spike, and lack of government aid, impacting the lives of everyday Americans.

“As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up, that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living,” Pankratz wrote. “We are no longer competing with the government when it comes to hiring. Stimulus money is no more, supplemental unemployment is no more. This benefits us as prices rise, people who [were] relying on unemployment money, simply will have less money to spend. It will force people back into the work force.” 

In turn, Pankratz believes Applebee’s could capitalize on this situation by offering less money to an anticipated influx of applicants, who are desperate to boost their earnings in the face of trying times and limited options due to competitors crumbling under the weight of increasing demands to compete with its rivals. 

The email was widely panned once it started making the rounds with Pankratz and Applebee’s receiving the brunt of the vitriol. A #BoycottApplebees hashtag started trending and Pankratz has reportedly been placed on leave. 

This latest wave of public backlash comes on the heels of their commercial airing during side-by-side coverage of the war in Ukraine last month. 

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