Applebee's $1 Margaritas Are Harming Employees

Restaurant employees tell us about the damaging effects of this buzzworthy promotion

Applebee's recent launch of $1 margaritas may have customers thrilled, but at one location in Maryland, employees are quitting and even walking out over the repercussions of offering such cheap booze in a college town—and, yes, tears are involved.

In what some see as a last-ditch attempt to win back the many customers (and especially millennials) who have abandoned Applebee's, the company launched its Dollaritas promotion—10-ounce $1 margaritas during the month of October—in an effort to put the bar back in Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar.

People seemed thrilled on social about the concept, but one employee tells us that the real situation is a bit grimmer. A junior information systems major at the University of Maryland, College Park, whose name is being left out for confidentiality, says management informed the staff of the Dollaritas launch the same day of the launch, when they walked in for their shift.

"No one was prepared. This location is normally pretty dead, but these past few days, there's been a line out the door every single day," the employee, who has worked  at the College Park location for four months, says. The employee goes on to say that the unexpected business has caused a shortage of supplies at this location, causing the restaurant to run on delays. For the first few days of the promotion, another employee says that a single bartender was making all the drinks, but soon, they had to add a second to keep up with demand.

"People started quitting, because we're not getting compensated enough for the amount of work we're doing," the employee says. "We're just running constantly back and forth to the bar. Everyone's ordering Dollaritas, but we're only getting $0.50 tips." With an hourly wage of less than $4 at this particular location, the lack of tips is affecting college student employees who have had to leave and seek other opportunities.

"Our $1 margaritas in October give us a chance to show our guests a little love, giving them a totally unbeatable offer as a gesture of our sincere appreciation for their patronage," said Patrick Kirk, vice president of beverage innovation at Applebee's, says. But that might not always be true.

"Our regulars are so frustrated. They just want a normal drink, but they are waiting 10 to 20 minutes just to get a beer, because the bartender is so busy making Dollaritas," the employee says, wondering if the regulars will even come back once the hype of the Dollaritas dies down.

The real outcome of the Dollaritas promotion won't be known until after it's over, but we have to wonder if these tangy, salty excruciatingly cheap margaritas will have been worth it.

"I just quit yesterday," the employee says, "I told them I'll come back in November."