NC Applebee's Can't Afford Breadsticks Or Candles Anymore

Glenn’s family went to Applebee’s last night and discovered that the restaurant is cutting back. Really cutting back. You have to bring your own candles now for their birthday cakes, because “Applebee’s doesn’t supply birthday candles anymore.”

So we took our five year old to an Applebees in Charlotte, NC last night for his fifth birthday. He ordered their “mac & cheese” and when it arrived we noticed that it did not have the usual breadstick. We asked why and were told that corporate felt that “they weren’t healthy for kids” so they have been dropped from the menu. So the dinner cost the same as before, just that the kids get less. Very nice.

Then the real kicker. He wanted chocolate cake for dessert. I told the waitress that it was his birthday but when they started coming out with the cake there was no candle. I asked that they put one in. They went back into the kitchen and came back out five minutes later – again no candle. They sang the song and he ate his cake. I asked “why no candle?” and was told that “Applebees doesn’t supply birthday candles anymore. If you want a candle in your cake, you have to bring your own.” Amazing. Things are so tight that they can’t put a candle in a five-year olds’ cake. I guess every penny counts today.

Our advice to Applebee’s customers in Charlotte: if you have a kid, bring a couple of phone books with you next time. You know, just in case they’ve sold off the booster seats.

(Thanks to Glenn!)

UPDATE: After reading the negative vitrol posted in the comments, Glenn sent in the following clarification:

Chris, it appears the my original post yesterday was completely taken out of context by the vast majority of those that posted comments in response. I was not upset that we didn’t get a candle. My five year old was not upset. It was simply a candle. Not a big deal. I didn’t feel that Applebee’s “owed” us a candle. We stuck one in a cupcake for him at home and there was no issue. The point I was trying to make was that chains such as Applebee’s must be hurting financially if they are cutting back on things such as bread and candles. They told me that they used to supply them and now they aren’t – I just found that interesting that a chain as big as Applebee’s is looking so closely at small things, such as candles, to save a few dollars. I understand that every expense impacts their bottom line, but things must be worse than we thought if they are proactively removing candles from their kitchens.

And as far as the bread, again, I just found it interesting that it used to be part of the kids meal, but now they have removed it, while keeping the price the same. If McDonald’s removed fries from their “Happy Meals” but didn’t drop the price, I am sure that people would complain that they are paying the same but getting less. That was all I was trying to say. My son got along just fine without the breadstick. He wasn’t upset.

As for taking my kid to Applebee’s for his birthday – he turned five. He likes their “mac & cheese.” As a parent, I just wanted my kid to be happy on this birthday. Nothing more, nothing less. It certainly doesn’t make me a bad parent. Is Applebee’s the best restaurant in the world? No. Are there better places to go? Yes. But he asked to go there, and it wasn’t a big deal. It was his birthday. I wish the people that posted responses would either remember what it was like to be 5, or had a 5 year old of their own. When you have a young kid, you do end up going to restaurants like this. That is why they are called “family friendly.”

(Photo: jemsweb)

Comments

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  1. Hanke says:

    They could smply have been out of candles…

    And the breadstick is unhealthy, but the Mac&Cheese is healthy? Who are they kidding?

  2. PinkBox says:

    It’s just a candle. And a kid meal breadstick.

    ……..who cares?

  3. chemmy says:

    Remove the breadstick from the menu cause it’s not good for kids but you’ll still serve them chocolate cake…

    Um ok.

  4. SomeoneGNU says:

    @NameGoesHere:

    “It’s just a candle. And a kid meal breadstick.”

    They have a right to that breadstick. A breadstick previous advertised and not offered. What if all that kid cared about was the breadstick? Is it fair to make that child feel not so good? Of course not.

    Take it to the manager, take it to the district, and most of all, take it to corporate. A candle I can understand, but the breadstick..why not just beat the child!

    (Disclaimer: None of what is said above should be taken seriously. It was a somewhat poor attempt at humour. Do not adjust your TV set, everything is ok.)

  5. bigtimestuff says:

    I understand the whole “getting less for the same price” complaint, but this guy/gal sounds like kind of an entitled jerk. While it’s always been nice to embarrass the random unsuspecting friend by telling the Applebee’s staff that it was their birthday, a restaurant certainly doesn’t HAVE to have candles for your kid. I don’t know why the LW would have been offended that they were unprepared for a birthday they couldn’t have known about. The kid won’t remember anything but awesome mac and cheese and chocolate cake, and hopefully not the fact that his parent was a pissy nitpicker.

  6. JimmyKumby says:

    This site is getting sooooo whiney.

  7. MikeB says:

    I can understand being a little miffed at the breadsticks, you are getting less food for the same price. As to the candles, I have never been to a restaurant that put candles in a piece of cake for someone’s birthday.

  8. PirateSmurf says:

    Because the candles got recalled due to trace amts of lead.
    Breadstick removed? maybe they were feeding you a line of crap because they ran out of breadsticks that were cooked and were to lazy to make more?

  9. beavis88 says:

    You (Consumerist staff) do a disservice to your site by posting nonsense like this.

  10. abnormality0208 says:

    This reminds me of the other day, my boyfriend and I went to eat at AB’s in KY and I always get this Chicken mushroom sandwhich that comes with fruit on the side and on the menu it said it comes with a variety of fresh fruit. The first time I ordered it, I got a whole bowl of fruit (pineapples, grapes, apples, strawberries, etc.) We went there a couple nights ago, I got 3 strawberries. The service that night was also horrible, it took at LEAST 30 min. just to get our appetizer. The manager delivered our food, but yet didn’t offer any apologies or such.

  11. SaveMeJeebus says:

    This is silliness. WGAS about candles? Did they advertise them and not come through? I’m sure if you raised a stink about a goddamn breadstick they would give you one but give me a break about candles.

  12. JPropaganda says:

    @beavis88: They won’t hear your complaint. Take it straight to corporate. Worse comes to worst, you should pull an EECCB. Find instrucations elsewhere on this site.

  13. Kmoney says:

    You (Consumerist staff) do yourself a disservice by posting comments left by sour minded egotists who seem to think if something isn’t important to them, it shouldn’t be important at all.

  14. DashTheHand says:

    OMFG time to boycott Applebee’s for not providing a breadstick and a candle.

    Seriously, have your kids birthday at home. Don’t make the already nerve wracked wait staff sing to your brats people.

  15. peggyhill says:

    paying the same and getting less is the big corporate MO these days. I had a Filet of Fish at the local fast food emporium and it seemed small to me.

  16. PinkBox says:

    The children’s menu doesn’t even say anything about breadsticks.

    This was taken from the online menu for a NC Applebee’s:

    “*Includes your choice of steamed broccoli, celery with ranch dressing, applesauce or fries.”

  17. ju_ju_eyeball says:

    My gosh you people, defending Applebees or saying that this is trivial. The question to ask is: Did the customer get good customer service? The answer is NO…

  18. rpm773 says:

    I swear Applebees didn’t put any chili powder in the chili I ordered there yesterday. Cost cutting bastards…

    I threw a fit like a 5-year old over it.

  19. Canerican says:

    This is pretty dumb. It’s a candle.

    This site really is getting quite whiny.

  20. Aladdyn says:

    Thinking about it, in today’s atmosphere of sue first think later, I can’t imagine any restaurant allowing open flames near any customer, let alone kids.

  21. durkzilla says:

    A local restaurant reviewer commented about the Applebee’s advertisment catch line, “Eatin’ good in your neighborhood” that if Applebee’s really was good eatin in your neighborhood that you should seriously consider moving.

    Applebee’s has been horrid for as long as I can remember at pretty much every location I have visited. Take your kid someplace decent for their birthday and they won’t end up resenting you and blaming you for all their problems to their therapist later in life.

  22. Dervish says:

    I guess I missed the part where the customer threw a fit because he didn’t get a candle…I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect one, and I read the story as kind of a “huh, isn’t that weird?” anecdote rather than the complaint of an outraged customer.

    I thought it was interesting, at least.

  23. @Kmoney: Word. What IS it with the commenters lately?

  24. ironchef says:

    what next? Toliet paper like what B of A did?

  25. chemmy says:

    where’s the 3…2…1… countdown commenter?

  26. MYarms says:

    Applebee’s sucks. Why are you eating there anyway?

  27. zidan says:

    The portions at Applebees shrink every time I go there (which is very rarely)

  28. B says:

    If they just gave the kid a margarita in a sippy cup, everybody would have been happy. Also, what kind of nine year old wants Applebees for his birthday? Or ever?

  29. Amnesiac85 says:

    @ju_ju_eyeball:

    Not good service? Um, because they were missing a breadstick and oh noes, missing a candle? I’ve never been to any restaurant that supplied birthday candles, except for like Chuck E. Cheeses…and that’s not really a traditional restaurant. Yeah, it sucks the Mac and Cheese is the same price, but the online menu says nothing about it, and I would assume they’ve updated their menus. Maybe they put more pasta in the dish now (I doubt it, it is a corporation, but it is possible..however slimly possible).

    The whole post is just a bit whiny. Now, if they stole her credit card or brought out the wrong food or were rude, that’s different. But this? It’s your kid..bring your own candles.

  30. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Headlines from an alternate dimension:

    Kid Gets Burned from Applebees Cake Candle

    Applebees “Kids-Size” Mac & Cheese & Breadstick have 93,283 Calories

  31. SaraAB87 says:

    I think the kid would have been just as happy with McDonalds but god forbid we feed our kids anything but fruit and vegetables and we are automatically considered devil parents by the rest of society. Bread is suddenly the devil while Mac & cheese is somehow healthy?? Last time I checked Mac & Cheese has way more calories than 1 kid sized stick of bread. Its not like removing the bread because it is unhealthy for kids is going to magically make all the calories from the Mac & Cheese go away. I am surprised they don’t just have one kids menu choice which is a plate of fruit and vegetables, with no added sugar and no butter on the veggies. If they were really concerned about the health of kids thats what they would do, oh and I am sure they are “taking this very seriously”.

    Applebees is the place where the tourists who don’t know any better eat here, we have recently discovered that the price of a GOOD restaurant here (ya know, one with home-made food, not frozen stuff warmed up in a microwave) is only marginally higher than the chain restaurants. Restaurants that are deemed “expensive” places to eat here, really are not that expensive after considering the prices of chain restaurant foods and the amount of times we eat out a year (less than 5).

  32. chrisjames says:

    While I hate people that whine about missing out on free stuff (and this guy Glenn is whining about pretty inconsequential stuff), I’d hate to think of this as part of a larger trend. If restaurants continue to cut corners, as well as giving their staff poor excuses to pass on to customers, then how small are our plates going to get while prices stay the same or keep going up. It’s disturbing what we pay for mediocre food and cut-and-paste atmosphere.

    We don’t have to eat out, yes, but we also don’t have to accept the situations that consumers are being backed into. This isn’t just about birthday candles, people. But seriously Glenn, don’t whine about breadsticks and candles. Be a man.

  33. soulman901 says:

    Are we really sure that was Mac N Cheese and not Candles that they were using to make that with? That would probably explain why they ran out of candles.

    Now back on topic. Really folks. This is getting to be stupid. People are getting out of line with what to expect when they go to a resturant. I blame the stupid commericials they put on.
    The people in the story are just plain dumb.
    First never take your brat to Applebees or Chili’s.
    I don’t want to hear him screaming while I’m trying to eat.
    Second, it’s not Chucky Cheese or whatever kiddie place there is out there. Why should they have to cater to your stupid brat.
    Third Stay at home and do the birthday celebration like normal people do for five year olds most of the time. You think you are so special that somehow Applebee’s a fourth rate resturant needs to bow down to you? Those kids in there could give a sh*t less.

  34. evslin says:

    @chemmy: 3…2…1… commenter in 3…2…1…

  35. johnva says:

    Applebee’s is basically McDonald’s with table service.

  36. B says:

    @soulman901: Personally, when I go to resturants like Chilis or Applebees, I expect there to be bratty kids. It’s a family resturant, so I expect families. If I want to go someplace kid free, I go to a real resturant.

  37. missmicrophone says:

    @NameGoesHere:

    Apparently she does.

  38. samurailynn says:

    It’s possible that they used to give out breadsticks with the mac&cheese and then started noticing how many breadsticks they were throwing away. It’s also possible that corporate said “hey, stop giving out stuff if it isn’t on the menu.” Whatever the reason, if it wasn’t part of the advertised meal, they didn’t deserve it. Now, maybe if they had said “hey, could my kid get a breadstick?” instead of “Where’s my kid’s F-ing breadstick?!” the waitstaff might have gone and got him one.

    Also, who cares about candles. Do you really want little pieces of wax that have probably been rolling around in a dusty corner stuck into your kid’s food?

  39. SVreader says:

    Gotta love how a story about a parent whining that a restaurant “can’t put a candle in a five-year olds’ cake” is followed by a story about a four-year-old dying of lead poisoning.

    A) Someone doesn’t want to bother to buy birthday candles for their child, angry that restaurant won’t do it.
    B) Someone’s child dies because of a company’s product.

    Which type should the Consumerist really be focusing on?

  40. jeff303 says:

    I can kind of understand this. If they don’t provide the candles they can’t be sued by some ignoramus whose kid gets sick after eating the cake+wax.

  41. SVreader says:

    @ju_ju_eyeball: So should a waiter have run off and bought candles somewhere? Maybe they could have given the kid some bread to make up for the breadstick, but just because a restaurant (or store) doesn’t have a freebie you want doesn’t mean it’s bad customer service.

  42. rellog says:

    They aren’t the only ones scaling back. I ordered a caesar salad at TGI Friodays a few weeks ago and they no longer have bread sticks or garlic bread served with the salad any more either… I make better CS than them anyway…

  43. bilge says:

    Commenters seem more outraged than the OP who doesn’t seem particularly outraged.

  44. rad_matter says:

    @johnva: I had a manager training class the other day and someone in class said the exact same thing you said.

  45. 22rifle says:

    Hey Glenn, your whining disgusts me. Shut up already.

  46. mindshadow says:

    All of the “blame the consumer” mentality going on around here lately makes me wonder if corporations have caught wind of consumerist.com and send in people to make these posts. I know we’ve caught a few shills before, but lately almost every post is “Oh well Joe should have known Corporation Y was going to fuck him, his fault, don’t stifle capitalism you pinko Commies.”

    Geez.

  47. 22rifle says:

    @B: There is no excuse for bratty kids. Shut them up. If you(not you, but to my target audience) can’t shut up your screaming kid the leave.

    Kids will be kids. I understand that. I love kids around. Even in restaurants. But keep them under control and do not let them scream bloody murder. Leave!

    And if you can’t control them in general don’t go to my local Chili’s anymore. Not unless you leave your brats at home or with a sitter.

  48. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @bilge: Yeah, some of the comments are really misinterpreting the OP’s tone.

    OP: “Hey, this is kind of weird and disappointing.”

    Commenter’s version of the OP: “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH I WANNA COOKIE WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.”

    If the OP actually was acting like that, then I could understand the bitching, but he’s really not.

  49. dorkins says:

    They’re just protecting their assets. The candles might be from Reebok. And made of lead.

  50. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @soulman901: Yeah, those nasty children really ruin the class and glamour of the Applebee’s dining experience.

  51. cmdr.sass says:

    Applebees stopped provided birthday candles because there was a risk that they might be tainted with lead. True story.

  52. 22rifle says:

    @mindshadow: Are you defending Glenn’s whining about a non-issue here? is that your point?

  53. 22rifle says:

    @CumaeanSibyl:

    He is still whining. The comments just dramatize what really happened. Some are overkill though.

  54. 22rifle says:

    @soulman901: good analysis

  55. I went to Maggiano’s the other night and had to ask for the bread/olive oil. And then we got a couple of slices of plain bread, none of that tasty parm cracker bread they used to put out.

    Who knows, maybe it was busy and ran out.

  56. gamehendge2000 says:

    Hey Glenn,

    If they didn’t ask to see your receipt when you were either

    a) storming out the door, or
    b) leaving with a mildly disappointed and weird vibe

    just consider yourself lucky that you didn’t have to suffer the ultimate indignation: not getting your breadstick, not getting your candle, and having your human rights violated like you were Nelson Mandela.

  57. SmellyGatto says:

    @JimmyKumby:

    was the word “getting” needed?

  58. Aphex242 says:

    One word to sum up this complaint:

    Wah!

    (Imagine it being said in the most sarcastic, petulant manner possible).

    Get over your missing blob of wax.

    This isn’t a ‘blame the consumer’ post, this is a ‘get a clue, real life ain’t always perfect’ post. Seriously, if the absence of a candle on a birthday cake you didn’t pay for for your own child has you so up in arms you have to write to a consumer advocacy website, your priorities MIGHT be a little fucked.

    Just saying.

  59. chc08 says:

    Solution: Don’t eat at Applebee’s. Ever. Gross.

  60. UpsetPanda says:

    I had a birthday party at McDonalds when I was 6. I don’t remember a thing about what I ate, who was there, or what color the candles were or whether I got a happy meal toy. I DO remember that I had a good time, got lots of presents, and cannonballed into the ball pit.

    Lesson? KIDS DON’T CARE ABOUT LITTLE THINGS LIKE CANDLES.

    I think parents sometimes put attention on things that they notice, but don’t realize that junior probably spends 4 hours of his day eating his own boogers and won’t care whether the candles are purple, green, yellow or aren’t even there. No candles? Celebrate again with a cupcake or something later, and stick 10 candles into it. Make do with what you have at the moment, don’t whine about tiny, little things.

    I think the reason why many people are commenting about the OP’s “whiny” tone is because of the tone the words take on – “Very nice.” and “Then the real kicker.” convey more dissatisfaction than not adding any similar quips at all. They convey something, that the OP felt Applebees slighted him/her because of not providing something that was expected, but in the end, wasn’t a big deal at all.

  61. radio1 says:

    I dunno, I much rather have birthday candles on a cake than the non-sincere, non-copyrighted birthday jingle that everyone sings at Applebee’s…

  62. gmss0205 says:

    Ok, everyone here needs to calm down. The post seems to say that he was just thought it was weird since they don’t supply candles “anymore.” It just seems that they cut back on something that they used to do. Nothing more, nothing less. In today’s economy it is interesting to see what restaurants are cutting out to save a few dollars. I understand that these chains are not having sales like they used to, but when they can’t afford a simple candle that probably costs less than a penny, it shows that they are going pretty far to save money. We all know that the economy sucks, but when it gets down to the minutia of cutting out candles (something that the chain obviously had to make a decision on), I think the chain is probably in worse shape than we thought. Everyone should just relax and realize that he did not come across as angry in his email, he was just pointing something out.

  63. BStu says:

    Geez. I didn’t really sympathize with the complaint, but the over-the-top hostility in response to it has tipped the scales of indignation in its favor. Maybe its no big deal, but all the “ITS NO BIG DEAL DUMMY” reactions are a lot sillier.

  64. truthbuddy says:

    Group Hug!

  65. gingerCE says:

    I admit, this guy does sound a little whiney. That being said, some restaurants do nickel and dime and some give generous portions and extras–usually non-chain restaurants.

  66. DeliBoy says:

    Perhaps we should go a step further, and go straight to blaming Greg’s kid. What right did he have to expect a candle on his birthday cake?

    Next time, this child should call the restaurant in advance to make sure candles would be in stock. This would allow his parents to bring in their own. This in turn would allow Applebee’s to save that $0.01, and in a very roundabout way, stimulate the economy.

    Greg’s family and their $60 check per visit? Now gone because Applebee’s makes these changes.

  67. Ex_EA_Slave says:

    The real problem is thinking Applebee’s is an appropriate place to have your child’s birthday party. Or thinking it is an appropriate place to do anything other than laugh at their horrible, prepackaged, frozen food assortment which passes as a menu. Was the community blow up pool at your trailer park out of commission? You couldn’t find a pair of scissors to have a mullet themed birthday party? And if you say Applebee’s is your spawns favorite restaurant, I’m calling CPS because you should be charged for even introducing a kid to the restaurant.

  68. Atsumi says:

    Couldn’t they have asked for a bread stick? I’m sure they’d happily bring one for the kid if asked.

    About the candles? I don’t think the kid is going to care. It is about the kid, right?

  69. traviswalden says:

    Who is cutting corners here? Who would expect a restaurant to provide them with cake and candles? Did you call ahead and ask? Are you friends with the manager?

  70. ClankBoomSteam says:

    I’m sorry, but who takes their five-year-old to an Applebee’s for their birthday??

    What kind of dull, gray world does this kid live in, where a dump like that is the big payoff? Did they buy him a newspaper as a gift, or did they buy him some dress shoes, instead? Maybe a laundry hamper? Paper towels?

    Jesus, take the kid to a park, at least…

  71. onesix18 says:

    Wow, this is a really different crowd than Lifehacker. I’m almost afraid to comment here. But I will.

    IT’S APPLEBEES. It’s TGI- Mc- Chili- Max&Ermas- RedRobin- Bahama- BigBoy- OliveGarden- Ihop- Denny’s all-the-same. The key to enjoying these restaurants is low expectations.

    In every city in America there is a locally owned restaurant that does “Applebees” better than Applebees; and usually cheaper, too. Look for it–I guarantee you will find it. (The same is true up and down the restaurant-quality scale.)

  72. DeliBoy says:

    @Ex_EA_Slave: The real problem here is in thinking that anyone but Greg, and his family, knows exactly why they went there. Most people know that Applebee’s does not warrant the same high expectations that your local 4 star does, and frankly, the abuse piled on Greg & family is totally out of line. His letter did not assume the voice of whining, and as far as we know his kid(s) was perfectly behaved in the restaurant.

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that this kid’s favorite place to eat is Applebee’s, and that he loves his breadsticks and candles. I think it’s also reasonable to assume that Greg would have purchased candles ahead of time had he know that Applebee’s was changing its policy.

    Finally, with the increasing trend of ‘blame-the-consumer’ attitude on this site, Consumerist is going to experience a large reduction in user submissions.

  73. dandd says:

    Why would you take you kid to Applebees on his birthday? Actually, why would anyone go into applebees in the first place? There are just way too many decent restaurants for the same price.

  74. Peeved Guy says:

    @DeliBoy: Well said.
    I don’t know why I am continually amazed at the amount of vitriol directed at children and parents on this site.

    FYI for those of you in the “Why did you take you kid to *shudder* Applebee’s?” camp: Sometime 5 year olds have bizarre tastes when it comes to what they think is “cool”. This kid probably had a ball. And, yes, he probably did notice there was no candle. Contrary to popular opinion, kids are not stupid.

  75. Juliekins says:

    @DashTheHand: I have to disagree. It’s time to boycott Applebee’s because it sucks. :)

  76. NotATool says:

    Thank god they didn’t check his receipt on the way out…

  77. SaraAB87 says:

    @UpsetPanda: This is so true, now all the kid will remember about his 5th birthday is how his parents whined about how he didn’t get the candles. Kids at this age do not care, they just want to have fun and get their presents.

    If I was a 5 year old a sit down restaurant is the last place I would want to be for my birthday. I would hope my parents would plan a really cool birthday at a place that was fun for kids and invite lots of other kids from my kindergarten class.

    I think the corporate mentality takes hold here, the customer thinks, this is a huge corporation they can afford to give out a breadstick and candle with my kids meal. Sometimes people cannot be pleased, even if they delivered candles and a breadstick this couple would have likely been whining about something else such as cold food or poor service in general.

  78. ldnyc says:

    But did they ask for ID before letting the alleged child order off the children’s menu?

  79. DeliBoy says:

    @SaraAB87:

    This is so true, now all the kid will remember about his 5th birthday is how his parents whined about how he didn’t get the candles. Kids at this age do not care, they just want to have fun and get their presents.

    I don’t see any indication that his parents were ‘whining’ or unreasonable in any way. Hell, maybe he’ll instead remember that crappy birthday where he didn’t get a candle?

    If I was a 5 year old a sit down restaurant is the last place I would want to be for my birthday. I would hope my parents would plan a really cool birthday at a place that was fun for kids and invite lots of other kids from my kindergarten class.

    I don’t think you can speak for Greg’s child here, and there’s nothing to say that a bunch of friends weren’t there. That makes it a bit more tragic, since kids usually expect candles at birthday parties.

    I think the corporate mentality takes hold here, the customer thinks, this is a huge corporation they can afford to give out a breadstick and candle with my kids meal. Sometimes people cannot be pleased, even if they delivered candles and a breadstick this couple would have likely been whining about something else such as cold food or poor service in general.

    This is assuming way too much and is unfair.

  80. UpsetPanda says:

    @Peeved Guy: There’s a different between noticing no candle and actually caring that there wasn’t a candle. There’s no mention of how upset the child was, only how upset the parents were. Poor kid didn’t get a candle – but his parents seem to be the only ones upset here. My point was that most kids don’t really care about those itsy bitsy details. They might notice – but they probably won’t be scarred for life. I feel like it’s the experience that counts, not the minute details that some people feel are the most important.

  81. UpsetPanda says:

    @UpsetPanda: *difference.

    @DeliBoy: I agree for the most part, though I don’t recall having a candle at my birthday parties as a kid…I probably did, but I really don’t remember if I didn’t, so if I didn’t, then oh well. I don’t necessaarily think they were whiny…just that it seems like it because they took time to write into the consumerist. Crappy service or cold food is one thing…not getting a candle is another.

    I don’t like Applebees either…but if a kid wats to go there, whatever. I know some people who love Red Robin. I don’t know why. But these are the same people who think I’m throwing away money by going to more expensive places. Also, I know some people who think I’m wasting money by shopping at more expensive clothing stores…Wal-Mart’s fashions just aren’t the same, sorry. We all have our quirks (some people just have bad taste)…kids are the weirdest of all.

  82. @soulman901: “First never take your brat to Applebees or Chili’s.
    I don’t want to hear him screaming while I’m trying to eat.”

    Try not going to family restaurants then, and go to a place for the growned-ups, not a “casual family dining” chain.

  83. Peeved Guy says:

    @UpsetPanda: Scarred for life, no, but kids notice stuff like that and one never knows when they are having a bad day and go off the deep end due to some issue that an adult would not even notice. Like no candle on a piece of cake at a birthday celebration, for instance. As far as the OP not mentioning the kids reaction, you’re right, it does not mention it. But, to be fair, quite a few of the folks here are taking liberties with how the parent(s) reacted too. When I read the OP, I went away with the Glenn just pointing out an oddity, after a few posts, he was a big whiner.

    What I was trying to convey with my last post was that maybe the kid LIKES going to Applebees. Kids are weird and all (or at least most) parents know this and indulge their kids with birthday celebrations at Applebees (or Friendlys, or Denny’s or Village Inn, or wherever) because it the kids birthday fer crissakes.

  84. vastrightwing says:

    The trend now is to have more self service with higher prices. So the logical conclusion at restaurants like Applebee’s is to do away with expensive waitresses and opt for cafeteria style service. In order to enforce patrons cleaning their own tables, there will be a table deposit that you will get back after you show that your table is ready for the next patron. They will surely add a dish cleaning fee to your tab or you can opt to wash your own dishes. Think I’m jesting? 4-3-2-1

  85. davidc says:

    The point of the OP was that service was lessoned for the sake of saving pennies.

    If a restaurant doesn’t want to do candles and sing, fine … but once you start doing those things, customers come to expect it and of course will be disappointed when the service is stopped.

    Reality is that candles are cheap … a heck of a lot cheaper then having a half dozen employees stop what they are doing to go sing a song!

    Kind of stupid to go to all the trouble / expense of doing the “birthday” song routine but not provide a candle.

  86. StevieD says:

    Whoopee crapola entitlement jerk.

  87. mammalpants says:

    i love it when “corporate feels.”

    that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside!

  88. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    This sounds overblown. The restaurant is probably poorly managed and was “out” of breadsticks and candles, and did not want to admit why they didn’t have what you wanted. I don’t think this warranted and “expose” on how cheap Applebee’s is. I would have sent an e-mail to Applebees Corporate to ask if what they told you was true.

    I’ll now stop using common sense and continue reading other people’s trivial issues.

  89. theneilcave says:

    I’m a waiter (not a great one, but I’m all right at it). I’ve been a restaurant manager (before I went back to college), and have done general customer service for years. The people who come in for parties only come in for parties, they tip poorly, leave a big mess, and interfere with other guests enjoying a quiet meal. Maybe that’s part of the reason applebee’s isn’t really going all out for birthday’s.

    I think too many people feel entitled to perks. This situation reminds me of guests who have been undercharged for their meals (repeatedly) and then get angry when they are charged the correct price on their current visit. Maybe the customer should just be happy about the good deal they got before, and realize they don’t get it anymore?

  90. ChuckECheese says:

    @bigtimestuff: This wasn’t one of your frat buddies you were playing a joke on, and who was too drunk to realize somebody forgot the candle, it was a sober and excitable 5-year old’s real birthday. 5-year olds want candles in their birthday cake. Living in a world such as we do where *everybody gets candles in their birthday cakes, 5-year olds have come to expect them, and 5-year olds aren’t afraid to cry if Applebee’s thinks it can get away with stiffing them on the paraffin.

    *Exception: Jehovah’s Witness 5-year olds do not get candles in their birthday cake, because birthday celebrations are of the devil. They get Watchtower subscriptions, conservative shoes, and Bibles covered in green leather.

    Mmmm, breadsticks, mac & cheese, and cake. You might as well pour concrete directly in that kid’s colon.

  91. Gadgetgirl says:

    As long as Red Lobster don’t try that mess with the Cheese Biscuits…

    Anyhoo, the excuse for the missing breadstick was garbage, and the excuse for the candle was trifling. It rates a ’25cent bag of crushed potato chips’ on the annoyance scale, I wouldn’t boo hoo about it. The server could have mentioned something about the candle before the cake arrived.

  92. ShariC says:

    My guess is the breadsticks weren’t being eaten and they decided to drop them.

    I’m with those who believe this is unbelievably trivial. It seriously smacks of someone expecting every whim to be catered to and sniffing in disdain when HRH’s whims are not catered to.

    Seriously, if you want to make your kid’s birthday special, don’t rely on Applebee’s to put a candle on a piece of cake. Make the kid a cake yourself.

  93. bigtimestuff says:

    @ChuckECheese: I’m actually a lady and to be honest, the last person I played that silly prank on was my mother about five years ago. But, having just gone to my neice’s fifth birthday party, I can definitely attest to the fact that five year olds are just psyched to have someone say “This is all for you, dearest child!” and get some cake, which they don’t know is not good for them. I truly believe that they could care less about a candle, and while I agree that some of the comments have been laying into the fella/lady too hard, it is a bit of a weird entitlement situation that will probably rub off on the poor kid. And, kind of disappointing for this site to even post it. Must have been a slow day, but then again, look at the comments it’s drawn!

    (Who knows…maybe this will prompt the letter writer to go the Jehovah Way. Next year the kid will get a brand new bike helmet and a tie. Or, is that the Mormans?)

  94. BikeRanger says:

    Applebees is just lucky little Texas Ranger didn’t come at them like a spider monkey.

  95. soulman901 says:

    I’m sorry guys, when did it become the resturants job to make sure EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD goes perfect for that group? They probably served the food just fine which is what their focus is. As for the breadstick, I don’t really remember breadsticks being essential to Mac and Cheese. One day I went there and they didn’t have my Fried Fish. No problem I just ordered something else. Now another time though they didn’t have the triple chocalate desert. One evil look to the server and they found one for me quick.

  96. ChuckECheese says:

    @bigtimestuff: I imagine chilluns don’t care about the details as much as their moms and dads do. Funny, I just read some corporate management magazine today that talked about the increasing sense of entitlement among today’s young workers. Modern parents do want the very best for their kids, but perhaps they’ve gone astray in teaching their children that they deserve to have others bring them the best on a silver platter, rather than going to get it themselves. Nonetheless, restaurants, and any business really, mess with the details and with service at their peril. People get almost irrationally angry when established traditions are changed, especially when stuff is taken away. Breadsticks and candles will cost Applebee’s a whole lot more in lost goodwill than they’ll ever recoup in wax and starch expenses.

  97. drjayphd says:

    @NotATool: I thought this whole thing could’ve been avoided if Glenn took his kid to a credit union in the first place, personally…

  98. jehnidiah says:

    I went to an Applebee’s in Charlotte just this weekend (probably the same one — on East Independence Blvd). They didn’t have four out of five of their advertised desserts, and they only had one vegetable (broccoli) in the “mixed vegetables” side dish.

  99. ahempton says:

    BYOC

  100. el_dusto says:

    Lots of comments.

    I am truly surprised that nobody mentioned the most likely reason for the missing breadstick without a commensurate price decrease.

    Has anyone noticed that food is more expensive than it was 6 months ago? Not much, but a little.

    Restaurants buy a LOT of food.

    Small fluctuations in food costs can have huge impacts on profitability.

    Restaurants are generally not great golden money trees from which their owners and staff pick benjamins to stuff into strippers’ thongs on the weekends. In reality, few restaurants turn a profit, and even then only in small percentages. All the general public’s complaining about “saving a few pennies” and “cutting corners” can often mean the difference between staying open and being permanently closed, especially in the case of a franchise.

    Then again, it is Applebee’s. I think I would rather they kept the breadsticks and just failed instead.

    Oh, and the candle thing is totally stupid. I worked in one restaurant ever (in 10+ years) that supplied candles for birthdays, and we were across the street from a party supply store.

  101. LikwidFlux says:

    I think everyone can agree it’s a pretty crappy customer experience, but can everyone agree that OP is a huge whiner?!?

  102. Kids at this age do not care, they just want to have fun and get their presents. –
    Hell, maybe he’ll instead remember that crappy birthday where he didn’t get a candle? –
    I agree for the most part, though I don’t recall having a candle at my birthday parties as a kid…I probably did, but I really don’t remember if I didn’t, so if I didn’t, then oh well.

    On the issue of the candle, and whether the kid cared, or even noticed:

    Don’t forget about the whole blowing out the candle and getting a wish thing.
    1 Light the candle
    2 Sing Happy Birthday
    3 Blow out candle
    4 Make a wish

    If the family has a thing where they do birthday dinners at Applebee’s, and in the past were given candles, they had a reasonable expectation that there would be a candle this time.

    On the issue of the importance of the poster’s complaint…

    Some people don’t need to be mad as hell to submit something to the consumerist. Maybe it’s just an interest thing…. you know…. things that make you go hmmm…. Assuming that every submitter was barely able to stop crying long enough to send an e-mail is kinda lame. Assuming that people care whether or not it is important to you is childish. If it’s unimportant to you, then why comment? Just continue on to another post about things that are more relative to your life.

  103. yesteryear says:

    my suggestion: stop eating at applebee’s.

    not only will you avoid the emotional trauma caused by a missing bread stick and birthday candle… you will avoid another bout of explosive diarrhea.

  104. gamin says:

    Ok the breadsticks I got fine same price less food ok that’s shady. Funny though that breadsticks are bad for kids but mac and cheese is the source of all vitamins and minerals.

    As per the candles well if the lady was really complainning I would use a cigarrette instead

  105. JohnnyE says:

    This is one of the saddest story I’ve read on here… some poor kid’s mother doesn’t even love him enough to spend a few minutes in the kitchen cooking him a real meal at home, not even one time a year on his birthday!

    I guess cooking up some macaroni and cheese (assuming that’s the kids favorite meal) is so complex and requires such specialized equipment, one has no choice these days but to farm the task out to an indifferent, loveless commercial enterprise that essentially herds people like cattle in and out of the feeding trough and fills their bellies with crap, pre-processed frozen garbage.

    The fact these days that people have lost any sense of home life and instead depend upon buying their ‘fun’ and ‘celebrations’ from corporations is the sign that we’re set to lose far more than just bread sticks and candles from our lives.

  106. yesteryear says:

    @JohnnyE: well said.

  107. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    this is worthless if you don’t mention WHICH charlotte location.

  108. coreyander says:

    Things are so tight that they can’t put a candle in a five-year olds’ cake.

    Or, providing the implements for a birthday celebration is outside the scope of responsibility for a chain restaurant!

    I understand the impulse to post stories that – while inconsequential – shed some light on the minor battles. I agree with other commenters that the standard shouldn’t be set such that only the most egregious stories make it to the site.

    On the other hand, this is not one of those cases. The customer got what they ordered from the menu, didn’t get something that they didn’t order, and unsuccessfully made a demand on the staff that was outside of their responsibility.

    What next, someone posts a story that “Things are so tight at Red Robin that they didn’t have a party hat waiting for little Jimmy.”

  109. j3s says:

    tl;dr

    If Applebees wanted to cut back, perhaps they should have considered getting rid of just the candles, and instead using lit breadsticks in their place. Woo!

    Also, thanks to Consumerist for answering my ever-nagging question of, “Who the hell eats at Applebee’s?”

    Well, whatever, I’m sure they are “taking this seriously”.

  110. Alex Chasick says:

    Glenn wrote in to the tipline to clarify his previous email:

    Chris, it appears the my original post yesterday was completly taken out of context by the vast majority of those that posted comments in response. I was not upset that we didn’t get a candle. My five year old was not upset. It was simply a candle. Not a big deal. I didn’t feel that Applebee’s “owed” us a candle. We stuck one in a cupcake for him at home and there was no issue. The point I was trying to make was that chains such as Applebee’s must be hurting financially if they are cutting back on things such as bread and candles. They told me that they used to supply them and now they aren’t – I just found that interesting that a chain as big as Applebee’s is looking so closely at small things, such as candles, to save a few dollars. I understand that every expense impacts their bottom line, but things must be worse than we thought if they are proactively removing candles from their kitchens.

    And as far as the bread, again, I just found it interesting that it used to be part of the kids meal, but now they have removed it, while keeping the price the same. If McDonald’s removed fries from their “Happy Meals” but didn’t drop the price, I am sure that people would complain that they are paying the same but getting less. That was all I was trying to say. My son got along just fine without the breadstick. He wasn’t upset.

    As for taking my kid to Applebee’s for his birthday – he turned five. He likes their “mac & cheese.” As a parent, I just wanted my kid to be happy on this birthday. Nothing more, nothing less. It certainly doesn’t make me a bad parent. Is Applebee’s the best restaurant in the world? No. Are there better places to go? Yes. But he asked to go there, and it wasn’t a big deal. It was his birthday. I wish the people that posted responses would either remember what it was like to be 5, or had a 5 year old of their own. When you have a young kid, you do end up going to restaurants like this. That is why they are called “family friendly.”

  111. Anonymous says:

    I just read the initial posting, then I read your follow-up not having read the responses. It seems odd to me that people would take your statement the way they did. I mean, I understood the purpose of the post and did not take it as whining or anything, more observation and surprise on your part. Also, trust me, I have a 5 year old, he also adores Mac and Cheese. He knows where he likes it and where he doesn’t. Why are people critcizing you because you let a 5 year old choose what and where he wanted for his birthday. Had you taken the 5 year old to “Chez Foo Foo” (or whatever fancy one) restaurant, he would most likely have been miserable, but these people would think you are a great parent. Good for you for choosing your son as more important to please.