Julia Stewart CEO of Applebee’s and IHOP

June 08, 2016

Julia Stewart started out in the industry as a 16 year old waitress at Applebee’s. Even though she was only 16, she knew that she wanted to stay in food service. Her goal even at that early age was to eventually run a company.

“Maybe I didn’t know at the time it was IHOP. But in my heart I always wanted to run something — always felt that.”
– Julia Stewart

Julia learned on the job and excelled enough to be promoted year after year. She worked all the way up to becoming President of Applebee’s. The CEO who hired her told her if she turned the company around she would be eventually promoted to CEO. Once she did exactly what she promised the CEO of Applebee’s told her she would never be CEO.

She then moved to IHOP to take over the CEO role. She had amazing success at IHOP. As a CEO she raised revenue by 62% in one year alone. She singlehandedly revitalized the brand, changed the menu and most importantly focused the company. She did so by selling off company owned locations and focusing instead on the franchise model.

This year she bought Applebee’s, the company she started waitressing at, for $2.1 billion. She bought the company and fired the CEO that lied to her. At face value it’s a great revenge story. However, she still needs to turn around Applebee’s like she did with IHOP.

I wish her all the success in the future.

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