The wait is over, Devils Lake. Applebee's has arrived.
With the grand opening scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, an expansive training process has already begun for the town's newest eatery, which has hired over 100 new employees ahead of Monday's debut lunch service, and with nearly all of the restaurant's new staff hailing from the Lake Region, including members of the management staff, the new Applebee's promises to offer a friendly, familiar dining experience.
Applebee's general manager Michael Schall, a Crary, N.D. native and former manager of the Devils Lake Hardee's, feels that the local component his staff possesses will prove to be an important part of the environment generated by the restaurant.
"It's very important," Schall said. "We're going to be here, because these are our roots. We're here to stay. We're here for the long haul."
The initial job employee recruitment effort initially saw a number of applicants inquire about open positions on the company website. Then, to generate further interest, Applebee's ran an advertisement in the Journal for two weeks, which inspired a secondary onslaught of applications. The company also introduced employment opportunities to Fort Totten residents at a job fair this summer.
The Devils Lake Applebee's has officially brought on 104 new employees after receiving more than 400 applications. According to restaurant officials, most of the new employees already possess previous customer service experience, but for those who don't, they're getting the best training they could ask for.
Every time a new Applebee's restaurant opens, corporate trainers fly in from all corners of the nation to offer their assistance, and that is exactly the case for this new Devils Lake location.
"We get the best of the best," said Dusty Jensen, Applebee's Chief Operating Officer. "We have people here from all over the country training new employees."
One of the trainers helping out in Devils Lake this week is Sharon Lake, a traveling trainer from Grand Haven, Mich. who has visited a number of cities across the United States in her years with Applebee's. In fact, the Devils Lake location is the 50th restaurant she's helped open in her career.
"And it's going to be my last one, too," Lake said with a laugh.
Lake has a wealth of experience in training new employees. She is officially the server trainer, but because she's participated in so many openings, she also offers her expertise to other employee groups as well.
According to her, from an Applebee's standpoint, things are going great with the new location.
"I love Devils Lake," Lake said. "These people are so much fun. The training is going very well so far."
And it's going to have to continue to go smoothly if this newly hired staff is going to be ready by this Monday.
Page 2 of 2 - There's been a buzz about this town for a while over this new Applebee's location, something that the management staff is more than aware of.
Jensen and others predict that business will be plentiful for the new restaurant, especially in the early weeks, and that the restaurant's local aura will only further contribute to that.
"I think it's going to be very busy," Jensen said. "We're a great addition to this community, and we try to localize ourselves as much as possible. It's very important to us that the faces we have here are recognized."