Last week I sat next to two young guys on the train. One of them got up to leave and shouted back into the car: “Knicks next week at Applebee’s?”
His friend confirmed the date and I listened. This required further investigation. My evening was free, I was thirsty, and a rack of those Famous Riblets didn’t sound half bad.
Two hours later, I was not regretting the decision. Applebee’s is fantastic.
It should be noted that Applebee’s is a massive corporate chain. At last estimate, they operated 2,000 locations in 16 countries. They have goofy commercials and disturbing food ideas like Dynamite Shrimp and the Quesadilla Burger. This brand of impersonal uniformity gives many proud New Yorker’s a case of hives at first mention, but like all things Brooklyn, this one location has taken on its own distinct and irreverent flare.
“This is the highest volume bar in the entire company,” said manager Armando Rumayor, “That’s including every location in New York and around the world.”
To say the place is always busy would be an understatement. While restaurant crowds are understandably scant in off-peak hours, the bar is standing room only most nights of the week with a healthy mix of college students, sports fans, bar flies, and thrifty drinkers.
A tall, thin, and impossibly voluptuous young black woman approached my table, strategically seating herself between my Rangers game and the growing mountain of bones in front of me. I asked if she was a regular, a question that conveniently served both of my interests perfectly.
“Oh, I’m here all the time,” she said confidently. “This is my spot. They all know me.”
She waved and smiled at two gentleman sitting at the bar. They returned the greeting with winks and couple of blown kisses. I knew she was out of my league and decided to keep my journalistic professionalism intact. I requested a name for the quote.
“A name? I don’t think so,” She recoiled.
I insisted and poured on the charm.
“Loquana,” she paused. “Loquana Satin, because that’s what I’m sleeping on.”
I gulped hard, wiped my brow, and blamed the wings for my red face.
She sauntered back to her friends just as “Juicy” by Notorious B.I.G. came on the jukebox. The bar erupted in a spontaneous sing-a-long while a middle-aged couple started grinding in the corner. The group of off-duty federal prison guards next to me cheered.
With this kind of entertainment and $4 pints, I didn’t even think twice about ordering another round.
Creative bar owners all over Brooklyn struggle every day to create the atmosphere that thrives at this unapologetic corporate stronghold. This Applebee’s is lively, affordable and packed to the rafters. Its popularity is a testament to the simple pleasures of familiarity. Even Brooklynites aren’t always looking for a new and fresh option, sometimes we just want a stiff drink and a room where everybody knows our name.