How to Build Your Dream Franchise

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Nail the real estate.

"The Applebee's in Times Square was a huge risk," Tankel says. A two-story Applebee's had never been built before, and, as Tankel tells it, Julia Stewart, CEO of the chain's parent company, DineEquity, was skeptical of the idea. But Tankel believed a Times Square location could become a flagship, and a destination. He was right: It's now the highest-grossing Applebee's in the country. Applebee's corporate office couldn't confirm Stewart's initial reaction, but say: "Locals and visitors have embraced the location."