Apple American Group LLC, a newly formed franchisee of Applebee's International, Inc., announced that it has acquired 73 existing Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants in Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington State and British Columbia, making it one of the largest franchise groups in the Applebee's system. It has also acquired 7 restaurants under development in Washington, New Jersey, Delaware and Ohio. The sellers were a group of entities managed by Strang Corporation of Cleveland, OH, and Franchise Equity Capital LLC of Seattle, WA.

Apple American Group now employs approximately 4,700 people and generates approximately $180 million in annualized sales. The company intends aggressively to develop new Applebee's restaurants in all of the territories where it is currently licensed to operate. The company's administrative offices will be consolidated into an existing support center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Apple American Group was founded by Chairman and CEO Greg Flynn, 37, whose principal office is in San Francisco. Mr. Flynn also founded Franchise Equity Capital LLC in 1998 to develop Applebee's in portions of Washington State. "We'll operate the Applebee's we've purchased with the same enthusiasm, dedication and direction that have made them so successful in the past," says Mr. Flynn. "We'll continue to support the communities in which we conduct business, and to maintain the neighborly atmosphere that has made Applebee's such a fun place to take family and friends for a great dining experience."

Equity financing for the Apple American transaction was provided primarily by GS Capital Partners 2000, a $5.25 billion private equity fund managed by Goldman, Sachs & Co. Debt financing was provided by a syndicate of banks lead by Fleet Business Credit, LLC.

Applebee's International, Inc. (Nasdaq:APPB), headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, develops, franchises and operates restaurants under the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar brand, the largest casual dining concept in the world. There are currently 1,385 Applebee's restaurants operating system-wide in 49 states and eight international countries.